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Director James Toback Accused of Sexually Harassing Dozens of Women

James Toback
Getty Images for AFI

Reading the articles over the last couple of weeks, one gets the feeling that a dam has burst. Women who were harassed or abused by the powerful men of Hollywood for decades are no longer keeping it quiet. In the wake of the explosive articles in The New York Times and The New Yorker alleging decades of harassment and assaults by Miramax and Weinstein Company executive Harvey Weinstein, more than 30 women have come forward, most of them on the record, to tell the Los Angeles Times that they were harassed by director James Toback:

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 vast majority of these women — 31 of the 38 interviewed — spoke on the record. The Times also interviewed people that the women informed of the incidents when they occurred.

Toback, an Oscar nominee for his screenplay for Warren Beatty’s Bugsy, was described in the article as flaunting his credentials and credits in the film business as a way to meet and pick up women. (By coincidence, Toback once wrote and directed a romantic comedy called The Pick-up Artist.) According to the Times, Toback would approach women on the street with a line like “My name’s James Toback. I’m a movie director. Have you ever seen Black and White or Two Girls and a Guy?” From there, the women who spoke to the Times describe a pattern of behavior that involves asking them intensely personal questions about their bodies or sexual behavior, and then pleasuring himself in front of them. The full descriptions are shocking; if you can, you should read the Times’ report.

Toback denied all the allegations to the Times; he claimed he had never met these women or, if he did, it was “for five minutes and [I] have no recollection” of them. He also said it was “biologically impossible” for him to perform the acts he was accused of because of diabetes and a heart condition. His latest movie, The Private Life of a Modern Woman, recently premiered at the Venice Film Festival. What a title.

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