In $2 Million Settlement, James Franco Says His Alleged Sexual Exploitation Victims 'Raised Important Issues'

But he still denies ever sexually exploiting a single one of them. Funny how that works.

In $2 Million Settlement, James Franco Says His Alleged Sexual Exploitation Victims 'Raised Important Issues'
Image:Debra L Rothenberg (Getty Images)

James Franco plans to pay out $2.2 million to settle a lawsuit in which former students of his short-lived acting program accused him of putting them in gratuitous and explicit sexual situations on camera. Franco denied the accusations against him for years, but, according to a new settlement filing obtained by Deadline, he, like, totally gets where they’re coming from.

From Deadline (emphasis ours):

“While Defendants continue to deny the allegations in the Complaint, they acknowledge that Plaintiffs have raised important issues; and all parties strongly believe that now is a critical time to focus on addressing the mistreatment of women in Hollywood,” the parties have all agreed to state. “All agree on the need to make sure that no one in the entertainment industry — regardless of race, religion, disability, ethnicity, background, gender or sexual orientation — faces discrimination, harassment or prejudice of any kind.”

Important issues, like, not (allegedly) forcibly removing women’s clothing on camera.

In February, a tentative settlement was reached in a 2019 lawsuit that alleged Franco “sought to create a pipeline of young women who were subjected to his personal and professional sexual exploitation in the name of education.” The alleged incidents occurred in 2017 when Franco was teaching a master class on sex scenes at Studio 4, a now-defunct acting and film school located in New York and Los Angeles, founded by Franco himself. The suit also accused Franco of demanding actors simulate sex scenes with him, removing protective coverings from actors’ genitalia, and pressuring students to sign away their rights to the video recordings of such acts. Students said they were led to believe that compliance in Franco’s chaotic program could lead to a role in one of Franco’s future films.

Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, the former Studio 4 students who initially filed the suit, are among those receiving financial compensation. This, after Franco’s lawyers happily painted the two as “attention-hungry” women eager to “jump on the #MeToo bandwagon.” But, sure, Franco and his associates absolutely appreciate the seriousness of sexual exploitation in Hollywood.

If this mealy-mouthed fake-deep platitude about women in Hollywood is what it takes to get money in the pockets of the former students impacted by this mess, so be it. But who in their right mind would actually buy this? It’s just another example of self-proclaimed enlightened men encouraging women to come forward, just as long as the allegations aren’t against them. But a combination of conditional allyship and social justice buzzwords is not the same as remorse. Franco’s statement achieves little beyond demonstrating the power of a moderately competent public relations team.

Next up, a Notes app apology.

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