Lawsuit alleges writer-director James Toback is a 'serial sexual predator'

Richard Shotwell

A lawsuit filed Monday in New York City alleges that Hollywood writer-director James Toback is a “serial sexual predator” who targeted and abused dozens of women over decades while often saying he wanted to cast them in his films.

The suit, filed in New York Supreme Court in Manhattan, lists 38 plaintiffs, with many identified as "Jane Doe." Fifteen are identified by name.

The Harvard Club of New York City, where the suit alleges Toback "lured" several of the women, is also named as a defendant.

The Daily Beast first reported the suit.

Toback, 78, an Oscar-nominated screenwriter and director whose film credits include "The Pick-Up Artist," "Bugsy" and "Tyson," was accused of sexual misconduct by more than 30 women in a Los Angeles Times report five years ago.

The story was published weeks after the New York Times' report on Harvey Weinstein helped ignite the MeToo movement.

Prosecutors in Los Angeles declined to file charges in five of the cases, saying in 2018 that the statute of limitations had expired in all of them, according to the Associated Press.

A lawyer who has previously represented Toback couldn’t be reached Monday. Efforts to reach the writer-director were unsuccessful and it wasn’t clear if he has a lawyer or representative to speak on his behalf.

Toback has previously denied the allegations, telling Rolling Stone in 2017: "The idea that I would offer a part to anyone for any other reason than that he or she was gonna be the best of anyone I could find is so disgusting to me."

Lawyers in the suit filed Monday said that Toback had a "Modus Operandi" that allegedly included approaching young women on the streets of New York City and showering them with compliments while touting his Hollywood credentials.

Toback would allegedly pitch the women on appearing in a forthcoming film and arrange a meeting to discuss the role, the suit says.

Six of the women said their meetings occurred at the Harvard Club New York City, a private venue for alumni and faculty, where he allegedly sexually assaulted, abused and battered the women in its "dining room, hallways, stairwells, bathrooms and hotel rooms."

Toback graduated from the school in 1966, according to the suit. A representative of the club did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In 2017, the club terminated Toback's membership, the suit says.

In some cases cited in the suit, Toback allegedly blocked women from escaping or chased them when they fled before sexually assaulting them. In several instances include in the suit, Toback allegedly masturbated in front of the women or on them, and penetrated them without their consent.

Toback then allegedly threatened the women, saying he would ruin their careers if they told anyone about the assaults and telling them he had ties to organized crime groups "and knew people who hurt people," the suit says.

The 89-page suit alleges assault, battery, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence. The suit does not specify damages.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com