American actor James Franco settles sexual misconduct suit filed by his students


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A settlement deal has been reached in a lawsuit that alleged James Franco intimidated students at an acting and film school he founded into exploitative sexual situations. Photo: AP

A settlement deal has been reached in a 2019 lawsuit alleging that James Franco intimidated his students into sexual situations at the acting school he founded.

According to a joint status report filed on Feb 11, two of Franco's former students at his now-defunct Studio 4 school, Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, have agreed to drop their individual claims.

Their sexual exploitation claims are also being dismissed without prejudice, which leaves them open to being re-filed.

Additionally, fraud allegations brought forward in the suit will be subject to limited release.

It is not immediately clear how much money was involved in the settlement deal.

According to their class-action suit, Franco had allegedly forced his students to perform explicit sex scenes on camera in what they described as an "orgy-type setting" during a master class he held on sex scenes.

Tither-Kaplan and Gaal also alleged that Franco led students to believe that roles in his films would become available to them if they followed along.

Franco's attorneys responded to the claims in a previous filing, calling them "false and inflammatory, legally baseless and brought as a class action with the obvious goal of grabbing as much publicity as possible for attention-hungry Plaintiffs."

The deal will be submitted for preliminary court approval by March 15.

Tither-Kaplan first alleged claims of sexual misconduct against Franco in early 2018 after he won a Golden Globe for his role in The Disaster Artist.

Since the allegations came to light, Franco has kept out of the spotlight, though he still has several film and television projects in the works. – Reuters

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