The Hollywood sexual abuse scandal widened on Monday after 38 women were said to have accused US film director James Toback of unwanted sexual encounters over a period of decades.
Toback reeled them in with boasts about his movie career and connections, as well as claims he could make them a star, according to their accounts to the Los Angeles Times.
But in meetings framed as interviews or auditions, he allegedly would turn disturbingly personal, with questions veering to masturbation and pubic hair, the Times said.
“He told me he’d love nothing more than to masturbate while looking into my eyes,” Louise Post, who met Toback in 1987 while attending Barnard College, told the Times.
“Going to his apartment has been the source of shame for the past 30 years, that I allowed myself to be so gullible,” said Post, who is now a guitarist and singer for Veruca Salt, an indie rock band.
Toback denied the allegations, telling the Times he had never met the women, or if he did, it “was for five minutes and (I) have no recollection.” His representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Toback, now 72, has been a writer and film director since 1974. His most recent movie, “The Private Life of a Modern Woman,” starring Sienna Miller, premiered this year at the Venice Film Festival.
In 1987, he made the semi-autobiographical “The Pick-up Artist,” and other credits include the Oscar-nominated screenplay for “Bugsy,” directed by Barry Levinson and starring Warren Beatty and Annette Bening.
– ‘Intimidating power’ –
The Times said it interviewed all 38 women who came forth separately — 31 of them on the record — as well as people they had spoken with about the incidents at the time.
None had reported the encounters to the police at the time.
A cascade of accounts by women of sexual abuse has flooded social media under the hashtag #MeToo since a similar scandal surrounding movie mogul Harvey Weinstein erupted earlier this month.
A Who’s Who of actresses and models have come forward to accuse Weinstein of rape, sexual assault and harassment, and of using his intimidating power in Hollywood to keep his behaviour hushed up.
Weinstein, who is reported to have checked himself into a rehab program in Arizona for sexual addiction, insists all his sexual encounters have been consensual.
Criminal investigations in his case are underway in London, Los Angeles and New York.
The scandal has prompted fresh calls for justice from 46-year-old former child star Corey Feldman, who took to social media on Thursday last week to share his own experience of abuse.