James Franco to pay $2.2m settlement over ‘explicit’ sex scene claims

·2-min read
Franco was sued in Los Angeles in October 2019 (Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)
Franco was sued in Los Angeles in October 2019 (Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)

Hollywood actor James Franco has agreed to pay a $2.2 million (£1.6 million) settlement after being accused of pushing female students to engage in explicit sex scenes on camera.

Franco was sued in Los Angeles in October 2019 by former students at his acting and film school.

The class action lawsuit, led by Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, alleged he abused his position and dangled opportunities for roles in his films. Students claimed they were victims of fraud for paying for the acting school while being sexually objectified and intimidated.

Newly revealed court filings show Franco, 43, and his business partners have reached a settlement with the accusers, and the agreement now needs to be signed off by a judge.

Under the proposals, Tither-Kaplan will receive $670,500 (£485,000) minus legal fees, while Gaal is set to receive $223,500 (£161,000), minus legal fees. The rest will go to other students as well as legal fees.

The lawsuit alleged abuses took place at Franco’s Studio 4 film school, which opened in 2014 and closed in 2017.

Tither-Kaplan had previously come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against Franco, shortly after he won a Golden Globe for his film The Disaster Artist in 2018. Franco denied them at the time.

If a judge signs off on the settlement, all parties will release a joint statement in which Franco would continue to deny the allegations.

It would read: “The parties and their counsel are pleased to have resolved portions of this dispute and pending lawsuit.

“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.”

Franco has starred in films including Pineapple Express, This Is The End and 127 Hours, for which he was nominated for the best actor Oscar.

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