James Franco Agrees to $2.2M Settlement

A judge must still approve it
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 1, 2021 12:03 AM CDT
James Franco Agrees to Settlement in Sexual Misconduct Suit
James Franco arrives at IndieWire Honors on Nov. 2, 2017, in Los Angeles. Franco and his co-defendants have agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle a lawsuit alleging he intimidated students at an acting and film school he founded into gratuitous and exploitative sexual situations.   (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)

James Franco has agreed to a $2.2 million settlement to put the class-action sexual misconduct lawsuit against him to rest. The suit accused Franco of pressuring students at a film school he founded to perform explicit sex scenes, on camera, in "orgy type" environments. It alleged that students at Studio 4 Film School in New York and Los Angeles were victims of fraud, per the Hollywood Reporter. Franco has denied all the claims. Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, two former students, launched the suit and will receive a chunk of the settlement, with $1.341 million being distributed between other class members who did not appear in court (minus hundreds of thousands in legal fees), unless they opt out. A judge must approve the settlement since it is a class-action suit.

In a joint statement agreed upon as part of the settlement, the parties note that Franco denies the allegations but acknowledges that "important issues" have been raised, "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 race, religion, disability, ethnicity, background, gender or sexual orientation—faces discrimination, harassment or prejudice of any kind." As the Guardian reports, Franco's behavior has come under the microscope before and been deemed inappropriate; in 2014, for example, he flirted with an underage girl on Instagram, asking if he should rent a room at her hotel. (More James Franco stories.)

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