Reports detail sexual misconduct allegations against film, restaurant executives

Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/File

Writer and director James Toback took part in a July 2013 panel discussion in Beverly Hills, Calif. Dozens of women are levying claims of sexual misconduct against Toback, according to the Los Angeles Times.

By Jacey Fortin New York Times  

NEW YORK — Two prominent executives — one in the movie industry, the other in the restaurant business — are the latest to face allegations of sexual misconduct.

The Los Angeles Times reported accusations made by dozens of women against James Toback, a writer and director whose films include “Bugsy” and “Two Girls and a Guy.”


And The Times-Picayune of New Orleans described allegations against John Besh, a restaurateur, and employees at the company he owns in part, Besh Restaurant Group.

The allegations follow similar accusations against movie producer Harvey Weinstein. On Oct. 5, The New York Times reported on allegations that he had sexually harassed and abused young women for years.

Toback was accused of cornering young women and attempting to masturbate in front of them or to rub his groin against them.

The Los Angeles Times interviewed 38 women separately. Many said Toback tried to convince them he could advance their careers. Some said he asked for eye contact while he masturbated.

Sari Kamin, a writer who also works in radio and photography, told The Los Angeles Times she was at a Kinko’s in Manhattan when Toback approached her in 2003.


Kamin, then 23, was an aspiring actress. She said the two met a few times for dinner before he invited her to a hotel room. There, she said, he convinced her to take off her clothes to prove she could perform sex scenes as an actress.

Then, she said, he began rubbing his groin against her leg, and she fled.

On Sunday, Kamin said telling her story in a public forum made her feel strong and vulnerable at the same time.

“It’s really amazing to be part of this community,” she said of the dozens of women who had shared similar stories. “I couldn’t be more happy that this is the outcome — that other women would also feel empowered.”

Toback did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment. But he told The Los Angeles Times he had not met any of the accusers, or that if he did, it “was for five minutes and have no recollection.”

The accusations against Besh and others at Besh Restaurant Group paint a picture of a work environment in which women repeatedly dealt with unwanted physical contact, comments, and come-ons. The Times-Picayune reported that 25 current and former employees said they had experienced sexual harassment from managers or co-workers.


Besh said he had had a “consensual relationship with one member of my team.” He added: “I alone am entirely responsible for my moral failings. This is not the way the head of a company like ours should have acted, let alone a husband and father. But it should not taint our incredible team of more than 1,000 employees.”

Raymond Landry, general counsel, said “we now recognize that, as a practical matter, we needed to do more than what the law requires and we have revamped our training.”