Aries Spears spoke publicly for the first time about the lawsuit he and Tiffany Haddish are facing over video sketches in which they allegedly had two minors perform sexually suggestive acts.
In a clip posted Wednesday to Instagram, the comic said that he couldn’t say much about the scandal “for legal reasons” and thanked his supporters for sticking by his side.
“Listen, this is an extortion case,” he said into the camera. “This is a shakedown.”
“We won’t be shaken down,” he continued, referring to himself and Haddish.
On Sept. 1, news broke that the pair had been accused of recruiting and coercing the children into acting out sexually suggestive scenes on-camera. The incident concerning the first plaintiff, aged 14 at the time, took place in 2013. The second incident, which took place a year later, involved a 7-year-old in a video that was uploaded to the sketch comedy site “Funny Or Die.” (The video titled “Through a Pedophile’s Eyes” was promptly removed upon its posting in 2018).
The causes named in the civil suit are intentional infliction of emotional distress, gross negligence, sexual battery, sexual harassment and sexual abuse of a minor.
In a statement to TheWrap, a lawyer for Haddish called the claims “bogus” and a “shakedown,” stating that the plaintiff’s mother had been attempting to extort the comedian for years.
Earlier this week, Haddish addressed the matter in a written Instagram post.
“I know people have a bunch of questions. I get it. I’m right there with you. Unfortunately, because there is an ongoing legal case, there’s very little that I can say right now,” Haddish said in the statement. “But clearly, while this sketch was intended to be comedic, it wasn’t funny at all – and I deeply regret having agreed to act in it.”
You can watch Spears’ video here.