James Franco is categorically denying sexual misconduct allegations against him.
According to People, the “Disaster Artist” actor has filed a written objection to a lawsuit launched last fall by two women claiming inappropriate sexual behaviour at his acting school Playhouse West Studio 4.
“While the salacious allegations in the complaint have made great tabloid fodder, they are also false and inflammatory, legally baseless and brought improperly in the form of a class action largely to gain as much publicity as possible,” Franco’s filing stated.
“This lawsuit is a travesty of justice and the culmination of a meritless campaign that has unfairly tarnished a decent man’s hard-earned reputation,” the objection continued.
In a 2018 L.A. Times article, Franco was accused by one of the plaintiffs — Sarah Tither-Kaplan — of sexual exploitation, including removing a safety guard while filming a simulated oral sex scene for the film “The Long Home” in 2015.
“I got it in my head pretty quickly that, OK, you don’t say ‘no’ to this guy,” she said at the time. “I feel there was an abuse of power, and there was a culture of exploiting non-celebrity women and a culture of women being replaceable.”
In his filing, Franco responded, “Ms. Tither-Kaplan had always expressed gratitude for having been given the opportunity to work in Emmy-nominated productions with Franco, one of her teachers.”
The statement added, “Tither-Kaplan was so effusive in her praise of Franco that she had posted unsolicited tweets and texts extolling Franco’s virtues, how much she admired him and how much she got out of her time at Studio 4.”
On the nude scenes listed in the suit, Franco’s objection said, “The casting director and others involved with those films have confirmed that all actresses, including Tither-Kaplan, were aware of the nudity scenes ahead of time, that they were constantly checking to make sure the actresses felt comfortable, that they signed nudity waivers, and that no one — including Tither-Kaplan — ever complained.”
Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal’s suit alleges “widespread inappropriate and sexually charged behaviour towards female students by sexualizing their power as a teacher and an employer by dangling the opportunity for roles in their projects.”
The two are suing Franco on claims of sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and fraud, among other allegations.