According to the New York Times, Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal — two former students at Franco’s Studio 4 acting school — sued the actor and his business partner Vince Jolivette over the program’s various alleged practices.
Franco and his partners in the school “engaged in widespread inappropriate and sexually charged behavior towards female students by sexualizing their power as a teacher and an employer by dangling the opportunity for roles in their projects,” the lawsuit states. The suit was filed Thursday in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Franco is also accused of making perspective students enroll in a “sex scenes masterclass” and film videotaped auditions with the understanding that Franco would remain in possession of the tapes; the students also had to sign away their rights to the recordings.
In addition to monetary damages, Tither-Kaplan and Gaal also seek the destruction of all video recording tied to the Studio 4 school. A rep for Franco did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
“This is not the first time that these claims have been made and they have already been debunked,” Franco’s attorney Michael Plonsker told The Hollywood Reporter. “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.”
In the aftermath of Harvey Weinstein and #MeToo, Tither-Kaplan accused Franco of sexual misconduct in a tweet that went viral on January 7th, 2018, just days before the Los Angeles Times‘ expose about the actor. In a Late Show interview, Franco called the accusations “not accurate.”
Hey James Franco, nice #timesup pin at the #GoldenGlobes , remember a few weeks ago when you told me the full nudity you had me do in two of your movies for $100/day wasn't exploitative because I signed a contract to do it? Times up on that!
— Sarah Tither-Kaplan🌈 (@sarahtk) January 8, 2018
Even after the accusations against Franco, the actor appeared in films ranging from the Coen brothers’ The Ballad of Buster Scruggs to the upcoming animated film Arctic Dogs. Franco also co-stars in the HBO series The Deuce, and a pair of his directorial works, Zeroville and The Pretenders, near release.
“I can’t sleep at night knowing that my coming forward, originally, did not do the work that I wanted it to do yet,” Tither-Kaplan told the New York Times after the lawsuit was filed. “There still has been no action, publicly, that shows me that these people know what they did is wrong and harmful and can’t been repeated.”