James Franco sued for sexual exploitation in his acting school
Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, former students at Franco’s now-closed Studio 4, filed the lawsuit Thursday which alleges Franco pushed students into performing explicit sex scenes on camera in an “orgy type setting.” They claim roles in Franco’s films would be dangled to those who went along
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Two actresses have sued James Franco and the acting and film school he founded, saying the actor intimidated his students into gratuitous and exploitative sexual situations.
Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, former students at Franco’s now-closed Studio 4, filed the lawsuit Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Their lawsuit says Franco pushed his students into performing in increasingly explicit sex scenes on camera in an “orgy type setting.” The women say roles in Franco’s films would be dangled to those who went along.
The lawsuit claims 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.”
Tither-Kaplan spoke of her experience with Franco previously with the Los Angeles Times, on “Good Morning America" and on Twitter. Gaal is coming forward for the first time. Franco’s publicist did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. He has previously called similar allegations inaccurate.
Franco and partner Vince Jolivette were behind Studio 4 with branches in New York and Los Angeles. Both the women suing Franco were enrolled in the LA branch, where they each paid monthly tuition of $300. According to the Guardian, additional masterclasses included a $750 class for sex scenes.
According to the lawsuit, a taped audition was required from the students in order to enroll in the class which Franco reviewed. Students then allegedly had to sign their rights to the footage away.
With regards to the auditions, the lawsuit alleges: “Often young and inexperienced females … were routinely pressured to engage in simulated sex acts that went far beyond the standards in the industry”.
Gaal says she was no longer allowed to be in the sex-scenes class after voicing her unease after the audition. Tither-Kaplan's involvement led to a role in a film, where during an orgy scene, Franco removed plastic guards placed over the women's vaginas while he simulated oral sex.
Franco in 2018 was accused by five women of sexual misconduct; among them Tither-Kaplan. The lawsuit seeks damages and the return of recordings as the accusers hope to make it a class-action suit so other women can come forward.
With inputs from AP