James Franco reaches an agreement with “sexually exploited” acting students

Franco allegedly forced women to produce scenes of the “orgy” type in his now-closed Studio 4 drama school.

A preliminary settlement has been reached between James Franco and acting students who claim to have been forced into exploitative sexual situations.

The Associated Press reports that Franco and the plaintiffs’ attorneys filed a joint status report with the Los Angeles Supreme Court earlier this month. While the documents were filed on February 11, details of the preliminary settlement were not immediately available.

According to The AP, two students who attended Franco’s now-defunct drama school Studio 4 agreed to drop their claims against the actor.

Plaintiffs, identified as Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, alleged that Franco had pressured the students to play increasingly explicit scenes. In several cases, Franco allegedly requested that his students participate in an “orgy sequence” in front of a rolling camera.

The lawsuit found that Franco’s expectations and demands went well beyond what would be acceptable on a Hollywood film set.

Franco, said the suit, “sought to create a pipeline of young women who were exposed to sexual exploitation in the name of education, personal and professional.”

Several former Studio 4 students who were part of the class action lawsuit against Franco’s school said they believed they would star in Franco’s films if they followed his direction.

Most of the incidents occurred in so-called “master classes” that Franco taught in Studio 4, which was permanently closed in 2017.

A movie camera. Image via Pixnio. (CCA-BY-0.0).

Franco’s lawyers previously claimed the class was trying to take advantage of the #MeToo movement to make money from the actor and filmmaker. In a previous filing, Franco’s attorney alleged that the allegations were “false and flammable, legally unfounded, and brought as a class action lawsuit with the obvious aim of getting as much exposure as possible to the attention-hungry plaintiffs.” They also noted that Tither-Kaplan in particular had previously stated that she was grateful for the opportunity to work with Franco.

The settlement, according to The Associated Press, is relatively rare – allegations of sexual exploitation are dismissed without prejudice, while allegations of fraud filed are subject to “limited clearance.”

The court documents received from the press did not specify how much money Franco would pay the class, if any.

Tither-Kaplan, who wrote on Twitter, suggested that actresses like her are routinely forced to endure abuse while trying to make a name for themselves.

“There are so many secrets I keep for abusive men that I can have hope of saving my career after I get in touch,” wrote Tither-Kaplan on Saturday. “I’m tired of carrying the weight of all of this trauma just so I can get a shot at what I’ve been working on all my life.”

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