James Franco has agreed to settle a $2.235 million lawsuit against him and his partners at the erstwhile Studio 4 acting school which had branches in Los Angeles and New York. Two students Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal claimed charges of “inappropriate and sexually charged behavior towards female students” in their lawsuit. He also reportedly promised roles in his movies to students who would participate in nude and/or sexually suggestive scenes.
The 2020 lawsuit was filed against Franco and his Studio 4 school partners Vince Jolivette and Jay Davis. The suit said that the trio used their power sexually as “teacher” and “employer” by offering opportunities in movie roles. It also said that they were victims of fraud as they paid $300 per month as tuition which was used to bankroll Franco’s production house. The school was opened in 2014 and shut in 2017.
As a part of the settlement both Tither-Kaplan and Gaal have dropped their suit without prejudice. Other members have about eight weeks to opt out. Criminal charges were not filed in the lawsuit.
They also alleged that those who were willing to disrobe in front of these employers and teachers received preferential treatment. Another charge put forth in the suit said that Studio 4 and Franco did not follow current film industry guidelines for nude scenes. Franco often intimidated the students, and this made them participate in simulated acts that crossed the boundaries of the standards set by the film industry.
The settlement had earmarked $670,500 for Tither Kaplan and $223,500 for Gaal, not including attorney fees. The rest of the money $1,341,000 will be distributed among the remaining students of the school. The unclaimed money would go to the National Women’s Center, if students opt out of the settlement.
Franco, Jolivette and Davis said that they continued to deny the allegations in the complaint but in a public statement section in the settlement they acknowledged that Plaintiffs had raised important issues.
They also said that all parties strongly believed that now was time to focus on addressing the mistreatment of women in Hollywood. They said that all of them agreed that it was necessary to ensure that “no one in the entertainment industry faced discrimination, harassment or prejudice of any kind.”
The economic terms were made public on Wednesday, but there still are some “non-economic” terms that are not public. The entire settlement has been submitted to a Los Angeles judge.
On Wednesday, Tither-Kaplan tweeted that she was very lucky to have a strong support system and she hoped that she could soon focus on making movies as that was all she ever wanted.