James Franco reaches settlement in sexual abuse suit: Here are all the women who have accused him of harassment
In 2019, two former students of the actor sued Franco for coercing them into explicit sexual situations against their will in his acting studio
James Franco has reached a settlement in the sexual misconduct lawsuit filed against him by two women students from his acting studio. In 2019, former students of the actor, Sarah Tithler-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, sued Franco for coercing them into explicit sexual situations against their consent while conducting an acting masterclass on the depiction of sex scenes on screen.
The sexual allegations first came to light in 2018 during the #MeToo movement in Hollywood, when five women came forward and leveled their complaints against Franco while interviewing with The Times.
Who are the women harassed by James Franco?
Apart from Tithler-Kaplan and Gaal, three more women students of Franco have alleged that he behaved inappropriately with them on multiple occasions. In 2012, 33-year-old Hilary Dusome attended an acting class by Franco. Though she found him to be of "generous spirit" in the beginning, her perspective changed when she was selected for a commercial shoot, thinking it was for one of Franco's "art films".
The shoot, which was conducted in an unprofessional and hostile manner at a strip club, also had another actress Natalie Chimel in it, who is one of the other complainants against Franco.
Dusome revealed to LA Times that during the shoot where the actresses were made to wear masks and lingerie, Franco approached them, asking, "So, who wants to take your shirt off?" After none of the actresses came forward, Franco stormed off being upset.
"I felt like I was selected for something based on my hard work and my merit, and when I realized it was because I have nice [breasts], it was pretty clear that was not the case. I don't think he started teaching with bad intentions, but he went down a bad path and damaged a lot of people in the process," Dusome reportedly said.
Chimel also agreed, saying that Franco took advantage of their eagerness to work. In 2014, Franco launched Studio 4 acting school with Playhouse West, with the aim to help aspiring actors learn the art more professionally and help them with work in the industry.
However, there were several instances where Franco reportedly crossed the boundary of acceptable behavior, in the name of emulating sexual scenes. Katie Ryan, an actress who trained at Studio 4, informed that Franco “would always make everybody think there were possible roles on the table if we were to perform sexual acts or take off our shirts."
Another woman to level allegations on Twitter was Violet Paley, who was in a relationship with Franco at the time when he was an aspiring filmmaker. The actor reportedly forced her to perform "oral sex" on him in her car. She added that Franco unzipped himself while the two were talking and she got really nervous.
Paley urged Franco to "do this later", but he reportedly nudged her head down. Though the duo later had a relationship, she said that the power dynamic was "really off" during the car incident.
What did Tithler-Kaplan and Gaal say in their lawsuit?
At the same studio, Sarah Tithler-Kaplan was a student who was chosen along with several other women for starring in a "bonus" nude orgy scene in Franco's 2015 movie 'The Long Home'.
During the shoot, the actor reportedly removed the protective vaginal guards of the female actresses and simulated oral sex on them. There was also another instance where she and her female co-stars were directed to appear topless and dance around him wearing animal skulls — all for an unscripted scene. The actress who declined to perform was eliminated from the shoot.
The other actress to file the lawsuit, Toni Gaal, revealed that she was denied admission into the sex scenes masterclass for her concerns, and was told by a male employee at the studio to "stop being so sensitive" and "grow thicker skin", according to a Daily Mail report.
In their joint lawsuit, the two women mentioned: "(Franco) sought to create a pipeline of young women who were subjected to his personal and professional sexual exploitation in the name of education." Tithler-Kaplan and two more women first came forward with the allegations in 2018, after the actor sported a #TimesUp pin on his lapel while accepting his Golden Globe award.
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
"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!" she wrote on Twitter.
Franco consistently denied the allegations terming them "highly inaccurate". During an interview on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, he said "If I've done something wrong, I will fix it. I have to."
Before the #MeToo allegations, Franco also came under controversy in 2014 for reportedly asking a 17-year-old British girl on Instagram if she had a boyfriend and whether she was 18. Despite the girl clarifying her actual age, the actor reportedly asked the name of her hotel and suggested if he should rent a room there. Later, Franco reportedly apologized for this behavior saying that he was "embarrassed".
These remarks were made by a third-person and individual organizations, MEAWW cannot confirm them independently nor does it support these claims. The respective references are linked in the article