Director James Toback is the latest Hollywood figure to be accused of sexual harassment and assault, in the aftermath of the widespread reports of Harvey Weinstein's sexual assault accusations. A new report from The Los Angeles Time revealed that 38 separate women have come forward to accuse James Toback, best known for films such as Tyson, Two Girls and a Guy and Bugsy of sexual harassment over a span of the past few decades. 31 of the 38 women interviewed went on record with their accusations, including a number of young actresses and Louise Post, the singer and vocalist for the rock group Veruca Salt.
This report reveals that James Toback would often approach women he saw on the street or other places in public, and introduce himself as a film director, mentioning some of his projects, including the Oscar nomination he received for writing the Best Picture nominee Bugsy. The director would also mention the three movies he made with Robert Downey Jr. and would reveal that he could make them "a star." But before that could happen, he needed to get to know them intimately, which would lead to meetings in hotel rooms or even his movie trailer, which quickly would take a turn and lead to sexual abuse or harassment. Here's what actress Adrienne LaValley said about a 2008 hotel room encounter that ended with Toback, "trying to rub his crotch against her leg, and when she recoiled, "he stood up and ejaculated in his pants."
"The way he presented it, it was like, 'This is how things are done.' I felt like a prostitute, an utter disappointment to myself, my parents, my friends. And I deserved not to tell anyone."
The Los Angeles Times reached out to James Toback, who denied these sexual harassment allegations. The director added that he never met most of these women, and the ones he did, "was for five minutes and have no recollection." The director also claimed that the behavior he's being accused of is "biologically impossible} for him to engage in, stating that "he had diabetes and a heart condition that required medication." Here's what actress Starr Rinaldi had to say about her encounter with James Toback in Central Park 15 years ago.
"In a weird sense, I thought, 'This is a test of whether I'm a real artist and serious about acting.' He always wanted me to read for him in a hotel or come back to his apartment, like, 'How serious are you about your craft?' And the horrible thing is, whichever road you choose, whether you sleep with him or walk away, you're still broken. You have been violated."
There had been rumors about his sexual inappropriate behavior history in the past, with reports surfacing in Spy magazine and Gawker. After the Harvey Weinstein allegations came to light, one of the trending hashtags that surfaced was #MeToo, where women were encouraged to come forward with their stories, several of whom did while calling out James Toback. One of them was Louise Post from Veruca Salt, who had this to say about her encounter with the director in 1987 while she was a student at Barnard College.
"He told me he'd love nothing more than to masturbate while looking into my eyes. Going to his apartment has been the source of shame for the past 30 years, that I allowed myself to be so gullible."
After the allegations first surfaced, Harvey Weinstein has been expelled from the Academy, meaning he's no longer an Oscar voter, and he was fired from his own company, The Weinstein Company, by its board of directors. As for James Toback, it isn't clear if any of these women will press charges against the director, or how this will affect his career as a whole. His most recent film, The Private Life of a Modern Woman, starring Sienna Miller, debuted at the Venice Film Festival last month, but it isn't clear if distribution is in place at this time. Head over to The Los Angeles Times to read their full report.