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James Franco to Pay $2.2 Million to Settle Sexual Misconduct Lawsuit Filed by Former Students

Many Hollywood names, including Seth Rogen, have said they do not plan to work with Franco because of the allegations.

James Franco

James Franco

Chelsea Lauren/Variety

James Franco and “associated entities” have agreed to pay $2,235,000 to resolve the sexual misconduct lawsuit that alleges he pushed his acting students into performing explicit sex scenes on camera, according to court filings made public June 30 (via The Hollywood Reporter). A Los Angeles judge will have to approve the proposed deal. The lawsuit, led by Franco’s former acting students Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, alleged that several Studio 4 Film School students in New York and Los Angeles were the victims of fraud and sexual misconduct.

As reported by THR: “Here, Tither-Kaplan is getting $670,500 minus $223,500 less in fees going to the lawyers. Gaal will get $223,500 minus $74,500 to the lawyers. And the other students would get almost two-thirds of the remaining pot of $1.341 million with the lawyers total take being around $827,000. … Franco has also agreed to ‘non-economic’ terms for the individual plaintiffs, although that’s presently the subject of a motion to seal.”

A statement in the court filings reads: “While Defendants continue to deny the allegations in the Complaint, they acknowledge that Plaintiffs have raised important issues; and all parties strongly believe that now is a critical time to focus on addressing the mistreatment of women in Hollywood. All agree on the need to make sure that no one in the entertainment industry — regardless of race, religion, disability, ethnicity, background, gender or sexual orientation — faces discrimination, harassment or prejudice of any kind.”

Tither-Kaplan and Gaal filed the lawsuit in October 2019. The suit stated that Franco and his partners “engaged in widespread inappropriate and sexually charged behavior towards female students by sexualizing their power as a teacher and an employer by dangling the opportunity for roles in their projects.”

As reported by The New York Times, the lawsuit noted that Franco’s “prospective students for the sex scenes class had to audition on videotape — so that Franco could later review the material, they were told — and sign away their rights to these recordings.” Within the master classes, which cost $750 on top of Studio 4 tuition, female participants were denied such industry standards as nudity riders present on the set, and they were encouraged to simulate sex acts beyond the call of duty.

Gaal said she recorded an audition for one of the classes, while Tither-Kaplan said she actually did take the class, which was intended as a primer for casting in Franco’s independent films. The lawsuit states that Tither-Kaplan “was often asked to appear in nude scenes or sex scenes. During the making of an orgy scene for one of his films, Mr. Franco removed plastic guards that covered other actresses’ vaginas while he simulated oral sex on them,” per The Times.

While Franco continued to star in the HBO series “The Deuce,” he has had few roles in any major motion picture since sexual misconduct allegations were first made against him in January 2018. Seth Rogen, a longtime collaborator of Franco’s, went on record in in May saying he has no plans to work with Franco again following the allegations.

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