Five women have come forward and accused James Franco of "inappropriate or sexually exploitative" behavior, as per a new report by The Los Angeles Times, which was published on Thursday (January 11).
All cases of sexual misconduct apparently took place while the Hollywood titan was teaching acting classes at Playhouse West in North Hollywood and at a now-closed film school he founded called Studio 4. At the latter, Franco taught a class called "Sex Scenes," where he reportedly pressured students to perform partially nude scenes or acted inappropriately while filming sexual encounters.
Word of Franco's history of inappropriate behavior initially spread when actress Ally Sheedy claimed in a now-deleted message on Twitter that her work with Franco on an off-Broadway play was one of the reasons she quit acting. Additionally, actress Violet Paley took to the platform during the Golden Globes on Sunday (January 7) and claimed that the actor forced her to perform oral sex on him while they were in a car together in 2016. Franco picked up an award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy.
In The Los Angeles Times article, former student Sarah Tither-Kaplan explained that Franco's teaching included "an abuse of power." "There was a culture of exploiting non-celebrity women and a culture of women being replaceable," she told the outlet. In one instance, she said that the actor "removed protective plastic guards covering other actresses' vaginas while simulating oral sex."
Vince Jolivette, a co-owner at Franco's production company Rabbit Bandini Productions, hit back at the allegations. "[Studio 4] was always run professionally," he said in a statement. He also said that the alleged misconduct claims are "very inconsistent with the mission" of the school.
Former students Hilary Dusome and Natalie Chmiel also have their own stories, where they claimed that they were pressured to film a scene topless. Another student named Devyn LaBella went as far as alleging that Rabbit Bandini Productions would promise to hold parts in Franco's films that required nudity. "[He] would always make everybody think there were possible roles on the table if we were to perform sexual acts or take off our shirts," another student Katie Ryan claimed.
Michael Plonsker, an attorney for Franco's attorney, fought for his client and said that the allegations were "not accurate" and told The Los Angeles Times that they should refer to the actor's recent comments on the Paley scandal in his visit with The Late Show. " I pride myself on taking responsibility for things that I've done," the actor told Stephen Colbert. "The things that I heard that were on Twitter are not accurate, but I completely support people coming out … So if I've done something wrong, I will fix it. I have to."
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