·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary

Lawsuits & Litigation

James Franco Sexual Misconduct Suit Ends with a Settlement Deal

— May 21, 2021

A settlement was recently announced, ending a lawsuit that accused actor James Franco of sexual misconduct.

A lawsuit involving actor James Franco and sexual misconduct allegations recently settled. According to the class-action suit, Franco was accused of intimidating “students at an acting and film school he founded into gratuitous and exploitative sexual situations.” The lawsuit itself was filed by a group of former students of Studio 4, Franco’s now-defunct school.

Handshake; image courtesy of Shutterbug75 via Pixabay,

Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal are two of the plaintiffs. They’re actresses and former students. They filed the suit back in 2019, and as part of the suit, they have agreed “to drop their individual claims under the agreement.” They had argued that “Franco pushed his students into performing in increasingly explicit sex scenes on camera in an ‘orgy type setting’ that went far beyond those acceptable on Hollywood film sets.” Additionally, the suit alleged 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 that students were led to believe roles in Franco’s films would be available to those who went along.”

The alleged incidents allegedly happened in a master class on sex scenes taught by Franco. Settlement talks began months ago, though. During that time, the lawsuits were essentially put on pause.

Prior to the settlement announcement, Franco’s attorneys, who happened to praise the #MeToo movement that inspired the lawsuit, called the suit’s allegations “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.” The attorneys also noted that “Tither-Kaplan had previously expressed gratitude for the opportunity to work with Franco.”

In addition to Franco and his production company, the suit also named Rabbit Bandini and his partners, including Vince Jolivette and Jay Davis, as defendants. As part of the settlement, sexual exploitation allegations filed by other plaintiffs in the class-action suit will be dismissed, which means they will have the opportunity to be re-filed. Additionally, “fraud allegations brought by those plaintiffs will be subjected to limited release,” according to court documents. Further details surrounding the settlement, including how much it settled for, are being kept under wraps for the time being.

The claims of sexual misconduct against Franco first came to light back in 2018 when Franco won a Golden Globe for The Disaster Artist. Around that time, the #MeToo movement was blazing through Hollywood. Franco is a well-known actor who has starred in comedies with Seth Rogan. However, since the allegations surfaced, he has kept a low profile. During an interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Franco said the allegations against him were inaccurate and stated:

“If I’ve done something wrong, I will fix it. I have to.”


Settlement Deal Reached in James Franco Sexual Misconduct Suit

James Franco Sexual Misconduct Lawsuit Reaches a Settlement Deal

Join the conversation!