Writer-director James Toback is the latest big Hollywood name to be accused of sexual harassment, with 38 women telling the Los Angeles Times of their experiences with him.
Toback, an Oscar nominee for his screenplay for the 1991 Warren Beatty-Annette Bening film Bugsy, was in the habit of introducing himself to young women in New York City, telling this he was in the movie business, and inviting them to his apartment or another private place, where "meetings framed as interviews or auditions quickly turned sexual," the Times reports.
"During these meetings, many of the women said, Toback boasted of sexual conquests with the famous and then asked humiliating personal questions," the Times account continues. "How often do you masturbate? How much pubic hair do you have? He'd tell them, they said, that he couldn't properly function unless he 'jerked off' several times a day. And then he'd dry-hump them or masturbate in front of them, ejaculating into his pants or onto their bodies and then walk away. Meeting over."
Thirty-one of the 38 women interviewed by the Times were willing to go on the record, and the paper also spoke to people to whom the women had reported Toback's conduct at the time. None of them reported his behavior to police.
"The way he presented it, it was like, 'This is how things are done,'" actress Adrienne LaValley told the Times. In 2008, she met with him in a hotel room, where he tried to rub his crotch against her leg, then ejaculated into his pants after she backed away. "I felt like a prostitute, an utter disappointment to myself, my parents, my friends," she said. "And I deserved not to tell anyone."
Louise Post, a guitarist and vocalist for the band Veruca Salt, said she met Toback in 1987, when she was attending Barnard College, and "He told me he'd love nothing more than to masturbate while looking into my eyes." She added, "Going to his apartment has been the source of shame for the past 30 years, that I allowed myself to be so gullible."
Toback, now 72, denied all the allegations. He told the Times he'd never met any of the women, or if he had, it "was for five minutes and have no recollection." "He also repeatedly claimed that for the last 22 years, it had been 'biologically impossible' for him to engage in the behavior described by the women in this story, saying he had diabetes and a heart condition that required medication," the paper reports.
Toback's other film credits include writing and directing 1987's The Pick-up Artist, which is reportedly somewhat autobiographical; the 2008 documentary Tyson, about Mike Tyson; and 2017's The Private Life of a Modern Woman, starring Sienna Miller as a successful actress who kills her ex-boyfriend, which premiered at this year's Venice Film Festival.