Tiffany Haddish says she deeply regrets acting in an old sketch with Aries Spears that has sparked a wave of criticism following a lawsuit from an anonymous woman who accused the comedians of exploiting her and her brother in sexually charged video skits when they were children.
“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,” she posted on social media. “But, clearly, while this sketch was intended to be comedic, it wasn’t funny at all – and I deeply regret having agreed to act in it. I really look forward to being able to share a lot more about this situation as soon as I can.”
Haddish and Spears were sued on Aug. 30 by a self-represented Jane Doe. The complaint alleges the woman and her younger brother were duped into participating in the skits as kids. The video featuring the brother, who according to the complaint was 7 at the time and was filmed in his underwear, was called “Through a Pedophile’s Eyes.” The clip showed Spears’ character lusting after the boy to the soundtrack of R. Kelly’s “Bump and Grind,” and ends with the boy showing an interest in the man and the warning “watch who you leave your kids with.” Haddish is featured as the mom who repeatedly leaves her son alone with Spears for various reasons. Funny or Die, where the comedians’ video had been posted, said it was removed in 2018 and called it “absolutely disgusting.”
In response to the suit, Haddish’s attorney Andrew Brettler called the claims “bogus” and said Doe’s mother had been trying to bring them for years.
“Every attorney who has initially taken on her case — and there were several — ultimately dropped the matter once it became clear that the claims were meritless and Ms. Haddish would not be shaken down,” Brettler said. “Now, [her] adult daughter representing herself in this lawsuit. The two of them will together face the consequences of pursuing this frivolous action.”
The news comes as Haddish, a longtime comic whose career exploded with the 2017 release of Girls Trip, continues to be an in-demand star. She is a lead of Apple’s The Afterparty, which has been renewed for a second season, and the animated series Tuca & Bertie for Adult Swim. Her next film project is Haunted Mansion for family-friendly Disney; she’s expected to promote it at the company’s upcoming D23 fan expo. If and how Haddish’s current and future projects will be impacted remains to be seen.
Spears addressed the accusations during an episode of the Spears & Steinberg podcast that was posted Wednesday. He said he couldn’t go into details for legal reasons, but spent about five minutes talking about the situation. “This is an extortion case. This is a shakedown,” Spears said. “And, believe me, it’s bothering me not to talk about the skit. There’s some very valid things I feel like I have to say, or want to say, but just can’t at this time. And I’m no coward. I’m not running from anything and I’m not guilty of anything. … My character is being assassinated. Again, I want to address the skit, especially, but I just can’t.”
Sept. 9, 12:20 p.m. Updated with comments from Spears.