Two Women Accuse James Franco of Sexual Exploitation in His Acting School

© AP Photo / Matt Sayles/Invision for Lindt ChocolateJames Franco is seen at the Golden Globes Official After Party sponsored by Lindt Chocolate on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018 in Beverly Hills, Calif
James Franco is seen at the Golden Globes Official After Party sponsored by Lindt Chocolate on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018 in Beverly Hills, Calif - Sputnik International
In the suit filed in Los Angeles, Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal claimed that Franco’s now-defunct program allowed his acting school to sexually exploit women.

The Oscar-nominated star was behind a school called Studio 4 Vince Jolivette. Tither-Kaplan and Gaal enrolled in the LA program and paid a monthly tuition of $300. There were also additional masterclasses, including a $750 class for sex scenes. The lawsuit claims that students had to audition for the class on tape so Franco could review the footage, with students being asked to sign away their rights to the recordings. The students were allegedly “routinely pressured to engage in simulated sex acts that went far beyond the standards in the industry.”

Franco and his partners “engaged in widespread inappropriate and sexually charged behaviour towards female students by sexualizing their power as a teacher and an employer by dangling the opportunity for roles in their projects,” the suit reads.

Gaal claimed she was not allowed to join the sex-scenes class after voicing her unease post-audition, while Tither-Kaplan claimed that her involvement led to a role in one of Franco’s films. She was picked to star in an orgy scene where Franco, according to the actress, removed plastic guards that had been placed over women’s vaginas while he simulated oral sex. Franco denied the allegations, saying that the representation is “not accurate.”

This is not the first time the star of 127 Hours has been accused of inappropriate behaviour. In 2018, Franco was accused of sexual misconduct by five women, including Tither-Kaplan. At the time, Franco’s lawyer refuted the claims and Franco addressed them during an interview with Seth Meyers.

“I have my own side of this story, but I believe in these people that have been underrepresented getting their stories out, enough that I will hold back things that I could say, just because I believe in it that much. If I have to take a knock, because I am not going to try and actively refute things, then I will, because I believe in it that much,” he said at the time.

The latest lawsuit is seeking damages and the return of any recordings, with the accusers telling NPR they hope to make it a class-action suit so other women can become involved.

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