Actor James Franco and two other men have reached a $2.2 million settlement of a class-action lawsuit filed by two women who alleged the trio headed an acting school that sexually exploited female students, according to court papers obtained Wednesday.
The Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit was filed in 2019 by Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, whose allegations included fraud, sexual harassment and discrimination, as well as civil rights violations.
According to court papers filed last week, the overall settlement — which still needs court approval — is $2.235 million, with $894,000 of that amount settling the two plaintiffs’ sexual exploitation claims and $1.341 million going to a fund for other class members.
The class members include those who paid tuition for courses at the Studio 4 Film School in New York or Los Angeles.
Tither-Kaplan and Gaal said in their lawsuit that they attended the Studio 4 school, which is now closed. The suit states they hoped to get work through the defendants’ production companies.
“While James Franco touted that one difference between Studio 4 and other acting schools was its ability to funnel promising talent into his projects, the reality was that he was looking to create a pipeline of young women who were subjected to his personal and professional sexual exploitation in the name of education,” the suit states.
Franco and the co-defendants, Vince Jolivette and Jay Davis, have denied the allegations. According to the court papers filed last week, they continue to deny any wrongdoing, but agreed to the settlement after concluding continued litigation “would be protracted and expensive for all parties.”
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