Tiffany Haddish said Monday on Instagram that she regrets having agreed to act in a sketch six years ago that is now one of the focal points of a sexual misconduct lawsuit against her and fellow comedian Aries Spears.
“I know people have a bunch of questions. I get it. I’m right there with you. Unfortunately, because there is an ongoing legal case, there’s very little that I can say right now,” Haddish, who starred in “Girls Trip,” said in the post.
“But, clearly, while the sketch was intended to be comedic, it wasn’t funny at all — and I deeply regret having agreed to act in it,” she added. “I really look forward to being able to share a lot more about this situation as soon as I can.”
Haddish and Spears have come under intense scrutiny after a woman and her younger brother accused them in a lawsuit of grooming them when they were children and coercing them to film sexually explicit comedy sketches.
The lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court last Tuesday by siblings identified as Jane Doe, now 22, and John Doe, who was born in 2007. Jane, who is John’s legal guardian, put herself forward as the plaintiff both individually and on her brother’s behalf.
The suit alleges that Haddish and Spears coerced the siblings when they were children to take part in sexually explicit skits that “stole the youth of a 7-year-old child and a 14-year-old child.”
The news of the lawsuit was first reported by the Daily Beast.
The plaintiffs acted in the skits because their mother knew Haddish, but only Haddish and Spears knew the storylines ahead of time, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges that the first skit, filmed in 2013, involved Haddish’s teaching 14-year-old Jane how to mimic fellatio on a sub sandwich.
The next year, 7-year-old John appeared in a second sketch, titled “Through A Pedophile’s Eyes,” featuring a character played by Spears who “leers at the child lustfully,” massages the boy and gets into a bathtub with him, according to the lawsuit.
In most of the sketch’s scenes, the boy is stripped “down to his underwear,” according to the suit.
The lawsuit alleges that the plaintiff’s mother repeatedly asked Spears and Haddish about “what was filmed that made her son cry.”
Four years later, in June 2018, Jane and John’s mother learned that the skit featuring her son had been published online, including on the Funny or Die digital platform, according to the suit.
“The mother, upset, stated that she would have never let her son participate in a pedophile child pornography skit,” the lawsuit alleges.
In a statement, a spokesperson said Funny or Die “found this video absolutely disgusting and would never produce such content.”
“We were not involved with the conceptualization, development, funding, or production of this video. It was uploaded to the site as user-generated content and was removed in 2018 immediately after becoming aware of its existence,” the spokesperson added.
In a statement, Debra Opri, an attorney for Spears, said Spears “isn’t going to fall for any shakedown.”
In a separate statement, Andrew Brettler, an attorney for Haddish, said the plaintiff’s mother had “been trying to assert these bogus claims against Ms. Haddish for several years.”
Brettler called the allegations “meritless,” dismissed the suit as a “frivolous action” and added that Haddish “would not be shaken down.”
Jane Doe said she and her brother “are not surprised that Mr. Brettler would attempt to divert the attention away from the legitimate claims filed by my brother and me, to shift the blame and attention to our mother who is not a party to this lawsuit.”
Daniel Arkin is a national reporter at NBC News. He specializes in popular culture and the entertainment industry, particularly film and television.
Diana Dasrath is entertainment producer and senior reporter for NBC News covering all platforms.