Academy award-nominated actor, James Franco reached an out-of-court settlement in the sexual misconduct case which was filed by his former students during his tenure at now-defunct Studio 4. Studio4 was an acting and filmmaking school, which was founded by James Franco himself. The lawsuit said the incidents occurred in a master class on sex scenes that Franco taught at Studio 4, which opened in 2014 and closed in 2017.
In 2017, multiple students from the film school came forward and shared their experiences about his sexually exploitive ways of teaching. One of the students Violet Paley tweeted about her ordeal with James-
Cute #TIMESUP pin James Franco. Remember the time you pushed my head down in a car towards your exposed penis & that other time you told my friend to come to your hotel when she was 17? After you had already been caught doing that to a different 17 year old?— Violet (@VioletPaley) January 8, 2018
In October 2019 two of his former students, Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal filed a lawsuit against him. The plaint alleged that the program "was little more than a scheme to provide him and his male collaborators with a pool of young female performers that they could take advantage of". Sarah Tither was one of the first students who tweeted about his sexual misconduct after he won a Golden Globe for his film Disaster Artist in 2018, after which he started keeping a low-profile.
Hey James Franco, nice #timesup pin at the #GoldenGlobes , remember a few weeks ago when you told me the full nudity you had me do in two of your movies for $100/day wasn't exploitative because I signed a contract to do it? Times up on that!— Sarah Tither-Kaplan (@sarahtk) January 8, 2018
As per the Associated Press, James managed to get an out-of-court settlement with his former students and filed it on February 11, but only now it has now been made public. The Lawsuit claimed that he used to push his students to perform explicit sex scenes on camera in an “orgy typesetting”, which was beyond the acceptable norms of Hollywood sets.
It was claimed that the actor “sought to create a pipeline of young women who were subjected to his personal and professional sexual exploitation in the name of education,” and his students were led to believe that they would get roles in James Franco's projects if they went along with it.
The two sides had been in discussions on a settlement for several months, and the lawsuit’s progress had been paused while they talked. The sexual exploitation allegations of other plaintiffs in the class action will be dismissed without prejudice, meaning they may be re-filed, the joint status report said. The document does not reveal how much money may be involved in the deal.
In a subsequent interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Franco called the sexual misconduct stories about him inaccurate, but said, “If I’ve done something wrong, I will fix it. I have to.”
Franco, 42, best known for starring in comedies with Seth Rogen, has generally kept a low-profile since the allegations arose in what had been a highly productive period that culminated in the acclaimed Disaster Artist.
(With inputs from AP)
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