James Franco Accused Of Sexually Exploiting Former Students Of Film School
James Franco has been accused of sexually exploiting former students who claim he charged them hundreds of dollars for sex scene masterclasses.
The allegations were filed in a lawsuit yesterday by two women who say he got them to perform topless auditions and on camera in orgy-like scenes.
According to the claimants, Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, the intention was to create a system whereby women could be exploited for the sexual benefit of the 41-year-old-actor.
The former students at Franco's Studio 4 school also say those who went along were led to believe that they would land roles in the actor's films.
The lawsuit said this "led to an environment of harassment and sexual exploitation both in and out of the class."
Ms Tither-Kaplan and Ms Gaal say they were charged $750 by the Your Highness actor for sex scene masterclasses which involved encouraging female students to appear topless before performing sex scenes.
The classes would then allegedly escalate to orgies and full nudity - none of which provided the regulation closed set.
Both women state those wanting to get a place at the school had to audition on tape - to which students signed away their rights - so Franco could review it later.
This style of approach was aimed at 'often young and inexperienced females' who 'were routinely pressured to engage in simulated sex acts that went far beyond the standards in the industry', legal documents state.
When Ms Gaal questioned the nature of one of these recordings, she was kept out of class.
Ms Tither-Kaplan went public with her allegations last year. She claimed that following a masterclass, she was given roles in films by Rabbit Bandini - a production company founded by Franco and a business partner, Vince Jolivette.
Looking back at some of the roles she was cast in, Ms Tither-Kaplan says she now recognises they were the result of her willingness to accept Franco's exploitative behaviour.
The women are now demanding damages, an apology from Franco and his associates, and that footage of them be handed over and destroyed.
But despite the accusations of sexual impropriety, Franco's lawyer Michael Plonsker has strongly denied any claims made against his client.
In a statement on Thursday, he said: "This is not the first time that these claims have been made and they have already been debunked.
"We have not had an opportunity to review the ill-informed complaint in depth since it was leaked to the press before it was filed and our client has yet to even be served.
"James will not only fully defend himself, but will also seek damages from the plaintiffs and their attorneys for filing this scurrilous publicity seeking lawsuit."
Franco's studio opened in 2014 before closing in 2017.
This isn't the first time the Hollywood star has been accused of sexual misconduct.
Speaking to Stephen Colbert last year, he said previous accusations were not true but added: "If there's restitution to be made, I will make it.
"I'm here to listen and learn and change my perspective where it's off."
It's understood that the two women hope others will join them so that they can make it a class action.
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