More than 30 women have come forward to accuse Hollywood director James Toback of sexual harassment and sexual assault in the wake of similar accusations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.
According to the LA Times, which published the expose on Sunday, Toback — a lesser-known but still powerful force in Hollywood — preyed on young actresses, forcing them to remove their clothes and perform strange acts while Toback asked them humiliating questions and masturbated.
The women accuse Toback of everything from "dry-humping their legs," to "masturbating in front of them and ejaculating into his pants or onto their bodies," the Times reports.
The actresses all seem to have the same story, reporting to the Times that Toback would approach women in parks and restaurants, drop his credentials — and if they didn't know his movies, the names of big stars he'd worked with — and then invite them back to his hotel room where he'd demand they help him engage in self-satisfaction. Once finished, he'd walk away, "meeting over."
Nearly all of the women who spoke with the Times went on the record — 31 of 38 — though none of them went to the police — a similar story as Weinstein's.
Toback, contacted by the Times, denies the allegations, and says he never met any of the women mentioned, and if he did, it "was for 5 minutes and [I] have no recollection.” He also claims that a heart condition and diabetes have left him unable to perform sexually, so it would be impossible for him to attack and harass these women in that manner, regardless.
But like Weinstein, there were signs that Toback's reputation in Hollywood included the possibility of creepy behavior. According to other outlets, Toback was known for including bizarre sexual themes in his movies and for being a womanizer (he embraced that, it seems, titling his own autobiography, The Pick-Up Artist). But this is the first time women have come forward with explicit accounts of their encounters.
Toback might be the first official "victim" of the #MeToo social media movement, which encouraged women to come forward with claims of sexual harassment and sexual assault to demonstrate how widespread the problem is, not just in Hollywood but across the landscape. Tweets about "#JamesToback" began appearing late last week, giving way to the Times story Sunday morning.
What year? I was approached by #JamesToback on NYC streets bewtween 1984- 1991— Victoria Balfour (@VickiBalfour) October 12, 2017
Last week, Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro noted, rightly, that until women (and men) began naming names in the "#MeToo movement, little would change in Hollywood.
Things might, in fact, be changing.