“Two former students of James Franco’s now-closed acting school filed a lawsuit Thursday alleging that the classes existed principally to create a way for Franco and his associates to take advantage of young women,” Variety reports. “Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal filed the class action complaint in Los Angeles County Superior Court, saying that Franco and his partners ‘engaged in widespread inappropriate and sexually charged behavior towards female students by sexualizing their power as a teacher and an employer by dangling the opportunity for roles in their projects.’”
The Studio 4 school, which was opened by Franco and his business partner Vince Jolivette in 2014, had branches in New York and Los Angeles. The school shut down in fall 2017, according to The New York Times.
Tither-Kaplan and Gaal reportedly attended the Los Angeles branch of the school.
“The suit alleges that the students paid $300 a month, thinking they were participating in a bona fide acting school,” Variety reports. “Instead, the women claim they were intimidated and sexually objectified, and found that those who were willing to disrobe in front of Franco and his friends were afforded special treatment.”
The filing alleges sex discrimination, sexual harassment, fraud and false advertising. “It seeks to establish two plaintiff classes: one for students who were sexually exploited, and a second for all Studio 4 students, who the suit claims were all defrauded,” Variety reports.
The report adds: “As part of the school, Franco taught a ‘master class’ on sex scenes, according to the complaint. In auditions for the master classes, the students were pressured to engage in sexual activity that went well beyond the industry norm, the plaintiffs allege.”