Filmmaker James Toback has been accused of using “his reputation, power and influence in the entertainment industry” to “lure” women “into compromising situations where he falsely imprisoned, sexually abused, assaulted, and/or battered them,” according to a lawsuit filed in the New York Supreme Court on Monday, the Daily Beast reports.
In 2017, amid growing allegations, he once told Rolling Stone that anyone who accused him of sexual misconduct was a “a lying cocksucker or cunt or both.”
Toback, 78, is being accused by 38 women of sexual assault over a span of nearly 40 years. The women are also accusing the Harvard Club — named as a co-defendant in the lawsuit — of permitting “Toback’s abuse to continue unchecked.” The director, who graduated from Harvard in 1966, “repeatedly used the prestige and privacy” of Manhattan’s Harvard Club to conduct his “serial sexual abuse of young women” in the dining room, stairwells, bathrooms and hotel rooms, according to the complaint.
In 2018, five women reported their personal accounts of sexual abuse by Toback to the Harvard Club, per the suit. One women alleged the director “hunted us on the streets of New York City” and “conned us with the promise of auditions at the Harvard Club,” using the club’s “name as bait to prey on young women.” The woman further alleged, “He exploited the dreams and vulnerabilities of hundreds of young women.”
For 40 years, the suit claims, the Harvard Club “continually catered to Toback’s needs, providing him a safe haven for his reprehensible and criminal acts.”
Reps for the Harvard Club of New York City did not immediately respond to Rolling Stone‘s requests for comment.
The filmmaker’s accusers also claim he intimidated them by threatening violence, boasting of affiliations with the mob, and claims that he said he murdered people — including a therapist at Harvard and that he “had killed someone with a fork.” Toback would also threaten to ruin women’s careers if they ever told anyone about the assaults. A woman identified as Jane Doe 5 in the suit alleged that he told her “she could never say anything to anyone ever” and that if she did, “she would never have a career in Hollywood.”
The filing also alleges that Toback sexually assaulted his victims at other locations around Manhattan, including his editing studio, his apartment, hotel rooms, public parks, and even his mother’s apartment. Plaintiff Sarah MacKay accused Toback of sexually assaulting her around 2004 and 2005 when she was about 20 or 21-years old. MacKay claimed that they met at his mother’s residence, the Majestic, where Toback asked her to remove her clothes, then “pinned her arms to the chair she was sitting in and grinded his penis against her leg until he ejaculated in his pants.”
Actress Selma Blair claimed Toback once threatened to gouge her eyes out and kill her if she told anyone he sexually assaulted her. “I’ve literally been afraid for 17 years of James Toback who threatened to murder me and, you know, put cement shoes on and gouge my eyes out with a Bic pen if I ever told anybody,” Blair said during an interview with The Talk. Julianne Moore and Rachel McAdams were also among the nearly 400 women who have accused Toback of sexual harassment or assault in 2018.
In April of that year, Los Angeles prosecutors did not file criminal charges against Toback in five cases involving alleged sexual misconduct because the allegations were beyond the statute of limitations.
However, New York’s Adult Survivors Act signed into law last month gives victims a yearlong window to sue their abusers as well as the institutions that protected sexual predators. This enabled women to come forward against Toback, even if the statutes of limitation have expired. The Adult Survivors Act has allowed hundreds of other women to sue prominent media figures, including writer E. Jean Carroll’s lawsuit against former president Donald Trump and numerous women who have accused Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein of rape.