James Franco accused of sexually exploitative behavior by multiple women

Five women accused the Golden Globes-winning actor of inappropriate behavior.

Franco’s accusers include four former students, and one who said he was her mentor. One woman, Sarah Tither-Kaplan, was a former acting student at the Studio 4 film school that Franco founded, and told the Times that the actor’s behavior became predatory during a sex scene he shot with several actresses, in which he removed protective plastic guards covering their bodies while simulating oral sex.

Another student, Hilary Dusome, recalled being selected to appear in one of Franco’s “art films,” in which he asked the actresses, “So, who wants to take your shirt off?” and stormed off when no women volunteered.

“I felt like I was selected for something based on my hard work and my merit, and when I realized it was because I have nice (breasts), it was pretty clear that was not the case,” Dusome said. “I don’t think he started teaching with bad intentions, but he went down a bad path and damaged a lot of people in the process.”

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Franco launched Studio 4 in 2014 in Los Angeles and New York, with the school abruptly closing in October 2017. While Franco did not lead most of the school’s classes, which charged students a monthly tuition of $300, the Times reports that he taught and mentored hundreds of the school’s attendees, and promoted potential opportunities for students through his production company, Rabbit Bandini Productions.

Franco’s attorney, Michael Plonsker, disputed all of the women’s claims in statements to the Times. USA TODAY has reached out to Franco’s reps for further comment. 

At Sunday’s Golden Globes, Franco won the award for best actor in a comedy or musical for The Disaster Artist, and wore a Time’s Up pin showing his support for the initiative devoted to addressing men’s abuse of power and gender inequity. Shortly after his win, Tither-Kaplan and several other women alluded to Franco’s history of misconduct on Twitter. 

Franco appeared on Wednesday night’s episode of Late Night with Seth Meyers, during which the host asked him for comment on the allegations. 

“I did read them, I haven’t responded,” Franco said. “I think the ones I read were not accurate, but one of the things that I’ve learned is that this is a conversation that needs to be had. There are people and women and others that have not been a part of this conversation, and I truly believe — and (it’s) why I was wearing the pin — is that they need to be a part of this conversation. So I support them.”

Stephen Colbert also asked Franco about the allegations during his appearance on Tuesday night’s episode of the Late Show.

“In my life, I pride myself on taking responsibility for things that I’ve done,” he said. “The things I heard that were on Twitter are not accurate, but I completely support people coming out and being able to have a voice, because they didn’t have a voice for so long. So, I don’t want to shut them down in any way. It’s, I think, a good thing, and I support it.”

This story is developing.

More: James Franco tells Stephen Colbert Twitter accusations ‘are not accurate’

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