Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, former students of James Franco’s co-founded school Studio 4, are suing the actor and his colleague male administrators for sexual harassment and discrimination.
The lawsuit filed on Thursday October 3, at the Los Angeles County Superior Court, makes the claim that Franco and his male collaborators engaged in a widespread inappropriate and sexually charged behavior towards female students by sexualizing their power as a teacher and employer by dangling the opportunity for roles in their projects.
The complaint further details that the school charged them extra tuition for advanced classes, including a Master Class course centered on sex scenes which the actor personally taught. Prospective students for the sex scene class had to audition on videotape so that Franco could later review the material, they were told- and sign away their rights to the material. Per the actions exhibited by the defendants, the suit says that it led to an environment of harassment and sexual exploitation both in and out of the class.
Franco’s attorney Michael Plonsker responded to the charges against his client in a statement saying, “This is not the first time that these claims have been made and they have already been debunked. We have not had an opportunity to review the ill-informed complaint in depth since it was leaked to the press before it was filed and our client has yet to even be served. James will not only fully defend himself, but will also seek damages from plaintiffs and their attorneys for filling this scurrilous publicity seeking lawsuit.”
The lawsuit seeks monetary damages and the return or destruction of any video recordings of former Studio 4 class members, as well as class action status so that other women who may have similar experiences can join.