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James Franco To Pay $2.2 Million In Sexual Misconduct Lawsuit Settlement

James Franco | Image: Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File

US actor James Franco will pay $2.235 million to settle a sexual misconduct lawsuit brought by two female students, according to a settlement released on Wednesday.

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Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, former students at Franco’s now-defunct Studio 4 acting school, alleged in a 2020 lawsuit that Franco, now 43, coerced them into sexual situations against their will, under the guise of it being part of an acting course.

The class-action lawsuit also named Franco’s partners in the school, Vince Jolivette and Jay Davis.

Lawsuit alleged 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.”

As part of the settlement, Tither-Kaplan would receive $670,500, and Gaal would receive $223,500 – both minus attorney fees. The remaining $1,341,000 goes to other students in the school, which had locations in New York and Los Angeles – unless they opt out of the settlement.

Franco, Jolivette and Davis continue to deny the allegations in the complaint’ but ‘they acknowledge that Plaintiffs have raised important issues,’ according to a ‘public statement’ section in the settlement.

As part of the agreement, all parties to the suit would release a joint statement in which Franco could continue to deny the allegations in the complaint. It reads in full:

“The parties and their counsel are pleased to have resolved portions of this dispute and pending lawsuit. 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 address the mistreatment of women in Hollywood. All agree on the need to make sure that no one in the entertainment industry — regardless of sex, race, religion, disability, ethnicity, background, gender or sexual orientation — faces discrimination, harassment or prejudice of any kind.”

Tither-Kaplan tweeted after news of the settlement broke on Wednesday that she’s not commenting on the settlement except to say, “I’m very lucky to finally have a strong support system. I hope soon my focus can just be on making movies. That’s all I’ve ever wanted.”

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