Former students sue James Franco over alleged sexual exploitation
MANILA, Philippines – Two former students of actor James Franco have sued him for allegedly engaging in "widespread inappropriate, sexually-charged behavior."
Franco's former students Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal filed the lawsuit before a Los Angeles County Superior Court on Thursday, October 3, citing that Franco's "sexually-exploitative behavior" was directed towards "female students by sexualizing his power as a teacher and an employer by dangling the opportunity for roles in their projects.”
According to a Variety report, the lawsuit also alleged that women were "intimidated and sexually objectified," and found that "those who were willing to disrobe in front of Franco and his friends were afforded special treatment."
At the now-closed Studio 4 acting school, Franco also instructed a "master class" on sex scenes, said the suit.
It claimed that students, who paid a monthly tuition amount of $300 and more for extra classes, were pressured to engage in "unconventional, orgy-like" sex scenes in full nudity as auditions for the class, which were taped and then judged by Franco afterwards, who would sign away the students' rights to the tapes.
The lawsuit said that the "women were encouraged to push beyond their comfort zones," which ultimately resulted in simulated sex acts that went beyond proper film-industry guidelines and standards, especially with "young and inexperienced females."
"The reality was that Franco was looking to create a pipeline of young women who were subjected to his personal and professional sexual exploitation," the lawsuit said, according to a USA Today report.
Kaplan tweeted about the allegation on January 8, 2018, after Franco won a best actor Golden Globe Award for The Disaster Artist.
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
In response to the allegation, Franco's attorney, Michael Plonsker, announced that the 41-year-old actor will be fully defending himself as he seeks damages against the plaintiffs for raising a "scurrilous, publicity-seeking" lawsuit.
“This is not the first time that these claims have been made and they have already been debunked,” Plonsker said.
"We have not had an opportunity to review the ill-informed Complaint in depth since it was leaked to the press before it was filed and our client has yet to even be served. James will not only fully defend himself, but will also seek damages from the plaintiffs and their attorneys for filing this scurrilous publicity seeking lawsuit," he added.
The Spider-Man and 127 Hours actor opened Studio 4 in 2014 with business partner Vince Jolivette. It closed down in 2017. – Rappler.com