Franco allegedly coerced women into producing “orgy type” scenes in his now-defunct Studio 4 acting school.
A tentative settlement has been reached between James Franco and acting students who claim they were coerced into exploitative sexual situations.
The Associated Press reports that attorneys for both Franco and the plaintiffs filed a joint status report in Los Angeles Superior Court earlier this month. While the documents were submitted on February 11th, details of the tentative settlement were not immediately available.
According to The A.P., two students who had attended Franco’s now-defunct acting school, Studio 4, agreed to drop their claims against the actor.
The plaintiffs, identified as Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, claimed that Franco had pressured students into performing progressively explicit scenes. In several instances, Franco purportedly demanded that his students partake in an “orgy type” sequence in front of a rolling camera.
The lawsuit stated that Franco’s expectations and demands went far beyond what would be acceptable on any Hollywood film set.
Franco, said the suit, “sought to create a pipeline of young women who were subjected to his personal and professional sexual exploitation in the name of education.”
Several former Studio 4 students, who were part of the class action against Franco’s school, say they were led to believe they would be cast in Franco’s films if they complied with his direction.
Most of the incidents occurred during so-called “master classes” that Franco taught at Studio 4, which was permanently shuttered in 2017.
Franco’s attorneys previously maintained that the class was attempting to take advantage of the #MeToo movement to make money off the actor-cum-filmmaker. In a previous filing, Franco’s counsel claimed that the allegations were “false and inflammatory, legally baseless and brought as a class action with the obvious goal of grabbing as much publicity as possible for attention-hungry Plaintiffs.” They further noted that Tither-Kaplan, in particular, had earlier stated she was grateful for the opportunity to work with Franco.
The settlement, notes The Associated Press, is relatively scarce on details—the sexual exploitation allegations will be dismissed without prejudice, while fraud allegations filed will be subject to “limited release.”
Court documents obtained by the press did not specify how much money, if any, Franco would pay the class.
Tither-Kaplan, writing on Twitter, suggested that actresses such as herself are routinely forced to endure abuse while attempting to make a name for themselves.
“There are so many secrets I keep for abusive men so I can have the hope of salvaging my career after coming forward,” Tither-Kaplan wrote on Saturday. “I’m tired of carrying the weight of all this trauma just so I can have a shot at what I’ve been working for my whole life.”