20 July 2023

Alleged “Indecent exposure” and sexual harassment – here are the details of the Danny Elfman case

The musician denies all wrongdoing, calling the claims "vicious and wholly false allegations about sexual misconduct."

Prolific film and television composer Danny Elfman – known for creating The Simpsons theme song and the music behind The Nightmare Before Christmas, Spider-Man and most recently, Netflix’s Wednesday – is being sued for breach of contract for failing to make settlement payments due to allegations of sexual harassment.

A new investigation by Rolling Stone claims that the musician sexually harassed Nomi Abadi, a Grammy-nominated pianist and composer, in 2015 and 2016. Elfman denies the claims and Abadi is now suing him for breach of contract for failing to make all settlement payments.

Rolling Stone uncovered a police report that Abadi filed with the LAPD in November 2017 in which she alleges that Elfman exposed himself and masturbated in front of her multiple times. Rolling Stone states that the police report categorised the allegations as “indecent exposure.”

Elfman denied all accusations of improper behaviour in a statement to Rolling Stone, stating he did not expose himself or masturbate in front of Abadi. He described their relationship as “platonic,” the publication reports, and claims that “Abadi had attempted to pursue Elfman romantically and retaliated against him after he spurned her advances.” 

In Rolling Stone’s article, he is also alleged to have coerced Abadi into a nude photoshoot, stating it would be an “artistic shoot,” which he denies.

He is also accused of presenting Abadi with a glass of what Abadi claimed Elfman said was semen. A representative for the composer told Rolling Stone that he “never claimed it was semen” and categorised the email as “a provocative tagline that was meant to be a joke,” telling the publication that the substance was actually the moisturising cream Cetaphil.

“How do I respond to accusations so serious that being innocent is not a valid defence? It is excruciating to consider that a 50-year career may be destroyed in one news cycle as a result of vicious and wholly false allegations about sexual misconduct,” Elfman told Rolling Stone. “Ms. Abadi’s allegations are simply not true. I allowed someone to get close to me without knowing that I was her ‘childhood crush’ and that her intention was to break up my marriage and replace my wife. When this person realised that I wanted distance from her, she made it clear that I would pay for having rejected her. I allowed an ill-advised friendship to have far-reaching consequences, and that error in judgement is entirely my fault. I have done nothing indecent or wrong, and my lawyers stand ready to prove with voluminous evidence that these accusations are false. This is the last I will say on this subject.” 

His spokesperson also told the publication that the settlement was a reaction to the #MeToo movement: “When faced with threats from the other party to go public with untruths at the height of the #MeToo movement, [Elfman] faced the impossible choice between settling and continuing his career and earning a living for his family or deciding to fight what at the time was an unwinnable battle to tell the truth — Danny chose his family. It is disappointing, but sadly not surprising, that this baseless narrative would be revived now that the payments have stopped. Accusations alone should not and do not equate to guilt, and Danny will defend himself and clear his name with the volume of evidence and the other party’s own words — her words speak for themselves.”

Abadi, who did not speak to Rolling Stone for their investigation, had entered into a non-disclosure agreement with Elfman in July 2018, signing a settlement worth $830,000.

Rolling Stone’s report says that Abadi signed a nondisclosure agreement “feeling she had little choice.” A friend of Abadi who spoke to the publication said, “She felt her career would be over if she said Elfman was a creep. And she’s right. I’m sorry to say, but that’s still unfortunately how this industry works.”

Rolling Stone spoke to numerous friends of Abadi who corroborated many of her allegations. The report states that her friends recall her excitement when she met Elfman in 2015 and that she was “hoping he’d take her on as a mentee and be a launchpad for her career.” The report continues, “Abadi visited Elfman at his recording studio several times over the year, where Abadi’s misconduct claims were alleged to have taken place.”

Abadi’s police report states that Elfman’s “demeanour turned from ostensibly friendly to inappropriate within the first year,” Rolling Stone writes. The publication also reports that Abadi claimed, in her police report, that Elfman would answer the door of his recording studio in a bathrobe with no clothes underneath, explaining “this was how he liked to work.” Abadi claimed, in her police report, that Elfman allegedly insisted that masturbating would help “with his creativity.” Friends of Abadi told the publication that Elfman would invite her into a sauna at his recording studio, which his spokesperson denied.

“She looked at him as a mentor,” a friend of Abadi’s told Rolling Stone, adding that she did not realise, at the time, that Elfman was “absolutely crossing a barrier.”

Another friend said, “He said he wanted to show her his authentic self; apparently, that involved being naked a lot.”

Abadi is an activist and has spoken to the media in the past about corruption and toxicity across the music industry, stating that the #MeToo movement has skipped over the world of composing, but she has alleged Elfman as her perpetrator. This is the first time Elfman has been named in connection with her allegations.

  • Writer Chris Saunders
  • Banner Image Credit YouTube / Master Class

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