Filmmaker James Toback has been accused of sexual harassment by more than 30 women, the great majority of them on the record, according to a bombshell report published by the Los Angeles Times on Sunday.
“The women’s accounts portray James Toback as a man who, for decades, sexually harassed women he hired, women looking for work and women he just saw on the street,” the Times‘ Glenn Whipp wrote.
The women who came forward described incidents in hotel rooms, public parks, movie trailers, and elsewhere. Many alleged that Toback, 72, rubbed himself against them, sometimes in public spaces, before revealing (and in many cases, acting on) his desire to “masturbate” in front of them. Others said he would discuss graphic sexual scenes with them “to see how far they were willing to go.”
“It’s a common thread among many women I know … after someone mentions they were sexually abused by a creepy writer-director, the response is, ‘Oh, no. You got Toback-ed,’” Karen Sklaire, an actor and playwright who accused Toback of grinding against her leg, told the Times. “The numbers are staggering.”
Toback, best known for writing Bugsy and the original 1974 version of The Gambler, categorically denied the allegations to the Los Angeles Times, claiming he had never met “any of these women” and adding that because he had diabetes and a heart condition, it would be “biologically impossible” for him to act out the alleged behavior.
Toback could not be reached by phone Sunday and did not immediately respond to a voice mail asking for comment.
The dozens of allegations against Toback come in the wake of Harvey Weinstein’s steep fall from grace. In recent weeks the Hollywood mogul has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 40 women, including multiple allegations of assault. (Weinstein has denied all allegations of non-consensual sex.) He was fired from his own company, the Weinstein Co., and forced to step down from its board of directors. Since then, on-the-record allegations of sexual misconduct have surfaced against, among others, APA agent Tyler Grasham and Amazon Studios programming chief Roy Price. (Grasham was fired Saturday, while Price resigned last week.)
Prior to the Los Angeles Times‘ report, Toback had a reputation for sexual impropriety. A widely circulated essay by Sari Kamin last week accused the filmmaker of harassment, and back in 2012, the now-defunct Gawker published a series of stories detailing his alleged sexual misconduct.
Reacting to the Times report Sunday, several celebrities swiftly denounced Toback’s alleged behavior, including filmmaker Paul Feig, actress Asia Argento, and TV journalist Gretchen Carlson.