Abuse of power

5 of James Franco’s former acting students accuse him of sexually exploitive behavior

James Franco. (The Seth Myers Show/YouTube)

Five women have now accused actor James Franco of sexual misconduct and exploitive behavior, telling The Los Angeles Times that Franco appeared to have used his acting schools in Los Angeles and New York as a means of securing young female extras to serve as naked props for his films.

Sarah Tither-Kaplan, one of Franco’s former students at Studio 4, the film school Franco founded in 2014, said that watching the actor proudly wearing a Time’s Up pin while accepting his Golden Globe award on Sunday “was like a slap in my face.” Tither-Kaplan said that in 2015, Franco asked her to play a prostitute for one of his films, The Long Home, in which she would have to perform nude. She agreed, thinking that he was giving her an opportunity to break into the acting world. On set, however, the film quickly diverted into “bonus scenes” — including one of an orgy where Tither-Kaplan said she appeared fully nude in the background while a handful of women were selected for Franco to perform simulated oral sex on. Tither-Kaplan alleged that Franco went from woman to woman and removed the plastic guard covering their vaginas before continuing to simulate having oral sex with them.

In another unscripted scene, Tither-Kaplan and other women were asked to dance around Franco topless while wearing animal skulls on their heads. The one actress who said no, Tither-Kaplan recalled, was fired the next day.

“I got it in my head pretty quickly that, OK, you don’t say ‘no’ to this guy,” said Tither-Kaplan.

Another actress who appeared in the above scenes confirmed Tither-Kaplan’s account of events, including the removal of the plastic guards. Franco’s attorney has denied the allegations.

Studio 4 closed both of its locations without warning last Fall, surprising many of its former students.

Franco’s attorney has denied the accounts published in The Los Angeles Times, pointing to Franco’s comments on his Tuesday night appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, in which he denied all sexual misconduct allegations — including other disturbing claims made by actresses Ally Sheedy and Violet Paley. Speaking with The Los Angeles Times, two other women who said they were taught by Franco also described the sexually exploitive behavior they allege the actor subjected them to.

Meanwhile, Franco continued to make the rounds on late-night TV Wednesday night. Watch video of Franco addressing the sexual misconduct allegations made against him below in an interview with NBC’s Seth Myers.

Read the full story at The Los Angeles Times.

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