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James Franco agrees $2.2m settlement in sexual misconduct lawsuit

Written by on 1 July 2021

Actor James Franco has agreed to pay a $2.2m (£1.6m) settlement following allegations he pushed female students to engage in explicit sex scenes on camera.

It comes after the 43-year-old Golden Globe winner and Oscar nominee, star of films including 127 Hours, The Disaster Artist and Pineapple Express, was sued by former students of his acting and film school in Los Angeles in October 2019.

Led by Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, the class-action lawsuit claims Franco abused his position by “dangling the opportunity for roles” in his films.

The Disaster Artist - Franco playing a failed director has been hailed as his best work Image: Franco starred alongside his brother, Dave, in The Disaster Artist, for which he won a Golden Globe for best actor. Pic: Warner Bros

Students claimed they were victims of fraud for paying to study at Franco’s Studio 4, which opened in 2014 and closed in 2017, while being sexually objectified and intimidated.

Franco and his business partners have now reached an agreement with the accusers, newly revealed court filings show, which is awaiting approval by a judge.

Under the proposals, Tither-Kaplan will receive $670,500 (£485,000) minus legal fees, while Gaal will receive $223,500 (£161,000), minus legal fees.

The rest of the settlement will go to other students and cover legal fees.

Tither-Kaplan had previously made allegations of sexual misconduct against Franco shortly after he won a Golden Globe for his film The Disaster Artist, which he also directed, in 2018. The actor denied the claims at the time.

If a judge approves the settlement, all parties will release a joint statement in which Franco would continue to deny the allegations, according to the PA news agency.

It would read: “The parties and their counsel are pleased to have resolved portions of this dispute and pending lawsuit.

“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 sex, race, religion, disability, ethnicity, background, gender or sexual orientation – faces discrimination, harassment or prejudice of any kind.”

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