Actor James Franco and two other men have reached a $2.2 million settlement of a class-action lawsuit alleging that female students at Studio 4 Film School were sexually exploited by the three men, according to court papers.
The “127 Hours” star was originally reported to have reached a tentative settlement in the case in February (21), two years after ex-pupils Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal claimed the disgraced actor had pressured students at Studio 4 – the film school he had co-founded – to strip off for auditions.
They also alleged Franco and other teachers and instructors had engaged in “inappropriate and sexually charged behaviour” towards female students, while others in the class action suit accused centre officials of creating “an environment of harassment and sexual exploitation.”
The incidents are said to have occurred during a master class on sex scenes taught by Franco, whose school shut down in 2017 after just three years in business.
A joint statement released by the parties involved reads, “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.”
“All agree on the need to make sure that no one in the entertainment industry – regardless of race, religion, disability, ethnicity, background, gender or sexual orientation – faces discrimination, harassment or prejudice of any kind.”
Franco has been keeping a low profile ever since his career and reputation took a hit in early 2018 amid the rise of the #MeToo movement, during which he was also accused of inappropriate behaviour and abuse of power by a number of other women.
At the time, he dismissed those allegations as “inaccurate.”
The overall settlement still needs court approval, but comes to $2.235 million, with $894,000 going to Tither-Kaplan and Gaal’s sexual exploitation claims and $1.341 million going to a fund for all the other class members, which includes those who paid tuition for courses at the Studio 4 Film School in New York or Los Angeles.