California sexual harassment claims against Oscar-nominated actor James Franco by former film students were recently settled for $2.2 million. The students allege that they were sexually harassed and coaxed into performing increasingly explicit on-camera sex scenes. They further alleged that as students at his film school, they were victims of fraud. Plaintiffs include one of five women who went on the record with the Los Angeles Times in 2018 to detail allegations of on-set behavior that was sexually exploitative or at least inappropriate.
Franco, 43, has denied the allegations repeatedly. But allegations of his inappropriate and possibly predatory behavior with young women were swirling even before the #MeToo movement gained traction. For example, in a 2014 Instagram exchange, he pursued a 17-year-old girl from Britain he’d met outside a theater, asking her about details of the hotel room where she was staying – even after he found out how old she was. When those messages later when public, he released a statement saying he was “embarrassed” and calling social media “tricky.”
In the most recent lawsuits, plaintiffs allege Franco set up his educational institute as a means to pursue young women and sexually exploit them. Those who cooperated with him were reportedly led to believe that doing so would land them roles in his movies. Plaintiffs allege the defendant coerced them during a “master class on sex scenes” into participating in sexual activity that was gratuitous while denying them protections actors and actresses would typically have as professionals with nudity riders. (Such riders protect film professionals from coercion and exploitation.) Continue Reading ›