James Franco Sued for Sexual Exploitation by Former Film Students

BY Brock ThiessenPublished Oct 3, 2019

James Franco has been hit with a lawsuit by two of his former film students, who have accused the 41-year-old actor/director of engaging in sexually exploitative behaviour.

The lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court today, the New York Times reports. According to the suit, Franco and his partners at the Studio 4 acting school "engaged in widespread inappropriate and sexually charged behaviour towards female students by sexualizing their power as a teacher and an employer by dangling the opportunity for roles in their projects."

The accusers — Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal — name Franco, his business partner and their production company Rabbit Bandini.

The Studio 4 school was first opened in 2014 and later shut down in 2017. Tither-Kaplan and Gall both attended the school's Los Angeles branch, where the former attended a course on filming sex scenes, while the latter auditioned for the course.

The lawsuit claims the sex scenes were filmed in class so that Franco "could later review the material," and that students "were denied the protections of nudity riders and other film-industry guidelines that govern how actors can be portrayed and treated in nude scenes," according to the NYT report.

These "sex scenes master classes" were also mentioned when Franco was accused of misconduct back in January 2018.

At one point, the lawsuit reportedly states that Tither-Kaplan "was often asked to appear in nude scenes or sex scenes. During the making of an orgy scene for one of his films, Mr. Franco removed plastic guards that covered other actresses' vaginas while he simulated oral sex on them."

Tither-Kaplan and Gaal's lawsuit seeks monetary damages, as well as the return or destruction of any video recordings of the women. On top of that, the suit is seeking that the case be given class-action status so that other victims can come forward to participate in the case.

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