Two students have filed a sexual exploitation lawsuit against James Franco

(Image credit: NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

It was reported this week that James Franco is being sued for sexual exploitation and fraud.

The 41-year-old actor has come under fire for his now closed acting school Studio 4, with two of his former acting students, Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, claiming that Franco had created ‘an environment of harassment and sexual exploitation’.

‘[Mr. Franco and his partners] engaged in widespread inappropriate and sexually charged behaviour towards female students by sexualising their power as a teacher and an employer by dangling the opportunity for roles in their projects,’ reads the lawsuit, per the New York Times.

Recalling her experience, the LA school’s former student Toni Gaal alleged that the sex scenes classes were only available to those who auditioned on film for Franco, with reports that the rights to the said recordings were signed away.

Toni Gaal was reportedly denied entry to the class after voicing her concerns but Sarah Tither-Kaplan went on to claim that during an orgy scene, Franco apparently got rid of the genital guards used to cover the actress’ genitals while they simulated oral sex.

While they are making viral news this week, the allegations were first made in 2018 after actresses came forward with their accusations during the Time’s Up movement.

‘Hey James Franco, nice #timesup pin at the #GoldenGlobes,’ Sarah Tither-Kaplan tweeted the actor to voice her claims. ‘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!’

‘I pride myself on taking responsibility for things that I have done,’ the Disaster Artist actor explained on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at the time. ‘But the things that I’ve heard that were on Twitter are not accurate, but I completely support people coming out and being able to have a voice, because they didn’t have a voice for so long.’

James Franco has not yet responded since the claims have resurfaced.

Jenny Proudfoot
Features Editor

Jenny Proudfoot is an award-winning journalist, specialising in lifestyle, culture, entertainment, international development and politics. She has worked at Marie Claire UK for seven years, rising from intern to Features Editor and is now the most published Marie Claire writer of all time. She was made a 30 under 30 award-winner last year and named a rising star in journalism by the Professional Publishers Association.