Entertainment & Arts

James Franco faces legal action over sexual misconduct allegations

James Franco Image copyright Getty Images

Actor James Franco is being sued for sexual misconduct by two former students at his acting and film school.

They allege that the Hollywood star engaged in "sexually-charged behaviour towards female students".

He is accused of abusing his position by pushing female students into taking part in sex scenes and "dangling the opportunity for roles" in his films.

The Pineapple Express and 127 Hours actor denies the claims, which his lawyer said were "ill-informed".

The legal case, which has been filed at a court in Los Angeles, says the alleged abuses took place at Franco's Studio 4, which opened in 2014 and closed in 2017.

The former students, Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, said Franco tried to "create a pipeline of young women who were subjected to his personal and professional sexual exploitation in the name of education".

They alleged that students were encouraged to pay $750 (£608) to join a sex scenes masterclass, for which they had to audition nude or partially nude. The sex scenes "went far beyond the standards in the industry", the women said.

Those who performed were led to believe parts in Franco's films would be made available, the legal papers say.

'Debunked'

Tither-Kaplan had previously come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against the actor/director, shortly after he won a Golden Globe Award for his film The Disaster Artist last year.

When the allegations first surfaced, Franco said they were "not accurate".

In response to the new case, his lawyer Michael Plonsker 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."

The two women accused Franco, his production company and his two business partners of sex discrimination, sexual harassment, fraud and other wrongdoing. They are seeking unspecified damages and for any video recordings of the sex scenes to be destroyed.

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