James Franco sexual misconduct lawsuit reaches settlement deal

Franco has repeatedly denied the claims

A lawsuit alleging sexual misconduct by James Franco has reached a settlement deal.

Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, two former students of the star’s now-defunct acting school Studio 4, claimed in a suit filed in October 2019 that Franco used the institution to engage in inappropriate conduct, which he has denied.

Now, as per February 11 court documents seen by The Hollywood Reporter, a settlement deal has been agreed.

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In Tither-Kaplan and Gaal’s 2019 lawsuit they alleged that Franco pressured students into performing explicit sex scenes on camera in an “orgy type setting” that went far beyond what is practiced on Hollywood film sets.

It was also claimed that Franco “sought to create a pipeline of young women who were subjected to his personal and professional sexual exploitation in the name of education,” and students were led to believe that roles in Franco’s films would be made available to those who complied.

James Franco
James Franco. CREDIT: Taylor Hill/WireImage

The purported incidents are said to have happened in a master class on sex scenes that Franco taught at Studio 4, which opened in 2014 and closed in 2017.

Gaal had claimed in the lawsuit that she was not allowed to join the class on sex scenes after expressing her discomfort following an audition for it, while Tither-Kaplan said her taking the class led to a role in a film by Franco that has yet to be released. She alleges that she was cast for an orgy scene where the actor removed plastic guards used to cover the vaginas of the women involved while he simulated oral sex.

In addition to Franco, the lawsuit also names Franco’s production company Rabbit Bandini and his partners including Vince Jolivette and Jay Davis as defendants. The document, which will be submitted for preliminary court approval by March 15, does not reveal how much money may be involved.

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In Franco’s denial notice of demurrer issued last February, the actor was named as “an ardent believer in the righteousness of the #MeToo and Times Up movements”.

“Unfortunately, while these movements have rightly brought down a number of reprehensible individuals, they have also ensnared an innocent man. James Franco,” the report continued.

In a January 2018 interview with The Late Show host 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.”

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