LOS ANGELES — (TNS) A second woman has accused Danny Elfman of sexual assault, alleging in a lawsuit filed this week that the composer abused her while she was a young, aspiring film composer.
The suit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Thursday and obtained by the L.A. Times, accuses Elfman of using “his clear power as a successful public figure in the film and music industry, as a form of control,” during the alleged instances of sexual abuse, such as exposing his genitals to her and masturbating in front of her while she slept. The events allegedly took place between 1997 and 2002. Elfman’s company, Musica de la Muerte, was also named as a defendant in the complaint, which demanded a jury trial.
The woman, identified in the complaint only as Jane Doe XX, said she was inspired to come forward with her allegations after reading a Rolling Stone report from July. The report brought to light prior accusations from Nomi Abadi, a 35-year-old musician and composer, who alleged Elfman had assaulted her between 2015 and 2016.
Elfman did not immediately respond to the L.A. Times’ requests for comment but has denied allegations from both women in statements provided to other outlets.
“The allegations of misconduct made against Mr. Elfman are baseless and absurd,” a spokesman for Elfman told the Hollywood Reporter. “His legal team is assessing all options and he will vigorously defend these claims in court.”
Jane Doe XX was a 21-year-old film student at the New York Film Academy when she first met Elfman, who at the time was 47, in 1997 at the home of a mutual friend. By then, Elfman had already led a storied career, having found prominence as the leader of the popular new wave band Oingo Boingo and composed film scores for Tim Burton classics “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” He also composed the iconic, enduring theme song for long-running animated sitcom “The Simpsons.”
Elfman and Doe immediately connected over their shared interest in film and music, the complaint said. She was eager to get help to “make it” in the music and film industry. Over the next several years, their relationship grew and Elfman began to treat the woman as a “consultant and protege,” and would often ask her for input when scoring films such as 1999’s “The Mummy,” according to court documents. He also would invite Doe out to Hollywood outings, such as cast-and-crew events for “Good Will Hunting.” She would later view these instances as “grooming” and emotional manipulation in order to “sexually abuse and exploit” her, the suit said.
During one of her visits with Elfman, as the pair were spending time in the Oscar-nominated composer’s hotel room at the Mercer Hotel in New York, the complaint alleges that Elfman had suddenly taken off his clothes and exposed his genitals in front of Doe. He then walked over to a window where he stood naked and asked Doe to take off her clothes and join him, the suit said. She complied but felt uncomfortable being naked in front of Elfman and put her clothes back on, while he remained nude in front of the window for another five minutes, according to the suit.
The next time the pair saw each other, Elfman stripped nude and started taking a bath, Doe alleges in the suit. He allegedly asked her to join him and watch him bathe. Each time the two worked with each other afterward, the lawsuit said that Elfman would strip naked in front of Doe, saying it was “the only way he could work, be creative, and successful.” In one other instance, Doe alleged in the lawsuit that Elfman had “coerced her” to also strip naked, to which she agreed.
Doe said in the court document that she was uncomfortable but did not speak up for fear of losing her relationship with Elfman, referring to him as “a mentor and a friend,” adding that she felt “very lucky” to be in this position. The lawsuit described the “imbalance of power” between them as playing a factor in her silence and compliance to Elfman’s demands.
When Doe would visit Elfman in his hotel rooms, or at his home in Topanga, where she stayed with him for several weeks as she prepared to move from New York to Los Angeles, the pair would sleep together in the same bed. Still, Doe would remain fully clothed and often would remain above the covers, the complaint said.
However, sometime in 2002, Elfman revealed to her, “Every time you have ever slept next to me, I would masturbate next to you,” the lawsuit alleged. He further explained that a part of his fetish was that she had to be asleep; Doe said in the complaint that she did not consent to this act. She also wondered whether Elfman had physically touched her during those instances. Doe said in the court filing that she ended her friendship with Elfman after that revelation.
For years, Doe never reported the alleged abuse after sharing the incidents with her colleagues, who told her there was no point in speaking up because of “who he is” in the industry. In July 2023, Doe read a Rolling Stone exposé that included accusations that Elfman allegedly exposed himself to Abadi and masturbated in front of her without her consent on several occasions. The report included descriptions that mirrored Doe’s own alleged experiences. She said she realized she wasn’t alone and filed the suit, she said in the complaint.
The allegations surfaced after Abadi sued Elfman in July, accusing him of not paying out a full settlement as part of a nondisclosure agreement between them.
The July lawsuit against Elfman said the composer had failed to pay Abadi $85,000 of a total of $830,000 to settle an “underlying dispute.” The suit, which was reviewed by the L.A. Times, did not specify what the dispute related to. The Rolling Stone report cited a 2017 police report in which Abadi alleged Elfman had sexually assaulted her several times between 2015 and 2016, and had allegedly leveraged his power and exploited Abadi’s desire to further her career in the music and film industry.
Doe’s complaint said Elfman and his company had engaged in “coverups” of the alleged sexual assaults of both women.
(By Jonah Valdez Los Angeles Times. Researcher Scott Wilson and staff writer Emily St. Martin contributed to this report.)