A second woman has filed a lawsuit against the award-winning composer Danny Elfman, accusing him of taking advantage of his power in the industry to strip naked in front of her on numerous occasions and masturbate while she lay sleeping next to him.
The suit, filed in Los Angeles superior court on Wednesday, comes three months after it was revealed that Elfman was previously accused of similar behavior in a different lawsuit and agreed to pay $830,000 in compensation under a legal settlement.
Elfman strongly denied the allegations in that case, brought by a young composer named Nomi Abadi, who further alleged that Elfman was behind on his settlement payments.
The Guardian has contacted Elfman for comment. Earlier on Thursday, a spokesperson for the composer told the Hollywood Reporter: “The allegations of misconduct made against Mr Elfman are baseless and absurd. His legal team is assessing all options and he will vigorously defend these claims in court.”
The new plaintiff, referred to in court documents as Jane Doe XX, was a 21-year-old student at the New York Film Academy with an interest in music when she met 47-year-old Elfman in 1997. According to the suit, Elfman took advantage of his status in the industry to “groom” her into accepting behavior that made her highly uncomfortable.
First, she alleged, he would routinely take off all his clothing in her presence and asked her to strip naked too – a request she agreed to because she saw him as a valuable mentor and “always felt the imbalance of power and pressure to act a certain way … [as] a condition of their continued relationship”.
Over time, according to the suit, he developed the habit of sleeping in the same bed as her, ultimately telling her he would masturbate while she slept – a disclosure that led to the end of their friendship. “His revelation that he masturbated over her was without her consent or knowledge,” the suit charged.
Elfman, now 70, rose to prominence with eerie, playful scores to such movies as The Nightmare Before Christmas, Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands and Batman. He has been nominated for four Oscars and 14 Grammys, and is a longtime collaborator of the director Tim Burton.
The composer is set to be honored at a 30th anniversary concert for The Nightmare Before Christmas that will run at the Hollywood Bowl, one of Los Angeles’ premier live music venues, for three nights before Halloween.
Abadi made similar accusations against Elfman, according to a 2017 police report unearthed by Rolling Stone magazine, including the charge that he stripped naked and masturbated in front of her. Her 2018 suit remained out of the public eye for five years under a confidentiality clause in their settlement, but the allegations it contained burst into the open when she sued him for breach of contract this summer, alleging that he had missed two scheduled settlement payments totaling $85,000.
The new lawsuit against Elfman was filed under a so-called “window law” allowing people who believe they were victims of sexual crimes to override the usual statute of limitations and file legal complaints within a limited timeframe. The California Sexual Abuse and Cover-Up Accountability Act came into force at the beginning of this year and remains in effect until 1 January 2026.