Two women suing James Franco for alleged sexual exploitation

James Franco

Two women are suing actor James Franco for alleged sexual exploitation and fraud.

The actresses Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal are former students of the Studio 4 acting school, which Franco helped create. They claim the now-defunct program was a scheme to provide him and his male collaborators with a pool of young female performers that they could take advantage of.

Franco’s school offered a $750 master class for sex scenes. According to the lawsuit, prospective students for the sex scenes class had to audition on videotape — so that Franco could later review the material, they were told — and sign away their rights to these recordings.

The women accuse Franco — along with two partners and their production company — of requiring unsafe and unnecessary sex and nudity during filmed scenes and forcing students to appear nude in exchange for promises of roles in Franco’s productions.

According to the complaint, women aged 17-24 were “recruited” by “scouts” for the acting school. Enrolled students were subject to an environment of fear and harassment; pressured into uncomfortable, explicit scenes; and stripped of their rights to their own footage.

The plaintiffs, who are seeking to make the suit a class-action on behalf of other students, are asking for compensation and punitive damages to be determined in a jury trial.

The Youtube video above is from January 2018, during which time as many five women came forward to accuse Franco of sexually inappropriate behavior. Sarah Tither-Kaplan was one of them. She said she once saw Franco remove protective plastic guards covering other actresses’ vaginas while simulating oral sex for a scene.

Toni Gaal is an American actress known for her film and television work in 20th Century Women, The Shield, The Young and the Restless, Erasing Eden, Kill House and The Doctors.