In the wake of Sunday’s L.A. Times report in which 38 women accuse director James Toback of sexual harassment, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn took to Facebook to confirm that, as was the case with Harvey Weinstein’s still-ongoing sexual-abuse scandal, Toback’s history of sexual misconduct was an open secret among those in the industry, a secret Gunn was long-committed to conveying to friends and colleagues.
“When I lived in New York, in the ‘nineties, this dude was EVERYWHERE. I have personally met at least FIFTEEN WOMEN, probably more, who say that he’s accosted them in NYC,” the Belko Experiment writer explained in a lengthy post. “It’s important to say, I don’t have any firsthand information about any of this. But the stories are so eerily similar, and I’ve heard them again and again from some of the people I trust most in the world, I know the chances of them being untrue … well, it would just be impossible.”
Given that he never witnessed the alleged harassment firsthand, and therefore could not personally come forward or file charges, Gunn did what many people do when they hear about a serial harasser or abuser: Pass the information along to the people in his whisper network. Said the director, “So I did what I could do in my impotent state — for over twenty years now, I’ve been bringing up James Toback every chance I could in groups of people. I couldn’t stop him, but I could warn people about him.”
In an addendum to his post, the director observed that making public statements that call out Toback, which Gunn says he has done in previous MySpace and Facebook posts, means opening himself up to potential legal ramifications. He expresses the hope that the victims of the Tyson director’s harassment will continue to come forward. “If I actually SAW something, it would be a different story. But simply sharing secondhand stories is legally complicated, and could open me to being sued,” Gunn notes. He concludes, “It is necessary that firsthand accounts come out to get these stories noticed, whether it’s from the victim or someone else who witnesses what’s occurring.”