A settlement agreement has been reached in a lawsuit alleging that James Franco intimidated students of an acting and film school he founded into senseless and exploitative sexual situations.
A status report jointly filed by the two sides in the Los Angeles Superior Court said a settlement had been reached in the class-action lawsuit filed by former students of the now-defunct school, Studio 4, although elements of the lawsuit may live on. The document was filed Feb. 11, but the settlement has not been previously reported.
Actresses and ex-students Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, who first filed the lawsuit in 2019, have agreed to drop their individual claims under the agreement, the court said. Their lawsuit said Franco was pushing his students to perform in increasingly explicit sex scenes on camera in an "orgy-like setting". which went way beyond acceptable on Hollywood movie sets.
It claimed that Franco was "trying to create a pipeline of young women subjected to his personal and professional sexual exploitation in the name of education," and that students were led to believe that roles in Franco's films would be available to those. who went along.
The lawsuits said the incidents took place in a sex scene masterclass that Franco taught at Studio 4, which opened in 2014 and closed in 2017.
The two sides had been in talks about a settlement for several months and the progress of the lawsuits was paused while they were talking. Emails to various attorneys for both parties seeking comment on the agreement and more details on the terms were not immediately returned.
In a previous lawsuit, Franco's lawyers, while helping the #MeToo movement that helped inspire the lawsuit, cited its allegations as "false and inflammatory, legally unfounded, and as a class action with the clear goal of getting as much publicity as possible for attract attention-hungry claimants. They pointed out that Tither-Kaplan had previously expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to work with Franco.
The lawsuit also cites Franco & # 39; s production company Rabbit Bandini and its partners, including Vince Jolivette and Jay Davis, as defendants.
The allegations of sexual exploitation of other plaintiffs in the class action will be dismissed without prejudice, meaning they can be resubmitted, the joint status report said.
Allegations of fraud filed by those plaintiffs will be "subject to limited release," the document says, without further details or explanation.
The document does not disclose how much money may be involved in the deal, which the parties say they will submit for preliminary approval by March 15.
Before filing suit, Tither-Kaplan voiced her sexual misconduct allegations against Franco along with other women in the Los Angeles Times after Franco won a Golden Globe Award in early 2018 for & # 39; The Disaster Artist & # 39; when the wave of the (hash) The MeToo movement traveled through Hollywood.
In a subsequent interview on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert," Franco called the stories of sexual misconduct about him inaccurate, but said, "If I've done something wrong, I'll fix it. I have to."
Franco, 42, best known for starring in comedies with Seth Rogen, has generally remained unremarkable since the allegations emerged during a highly productive period culminating in the critically acclaimed 'Disaster Artist'.
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