A lawsuit filed Thursday alleges that James Franco and his business partners created an acting school in order to supply themselves with a pool of young females to sexually exploit. The now defunct school, called Studio 4, promised students that they would have opportunities to audition for films that Franco was making. Those movies never materialized, but students were subjected to sexually exploitative auditions and film shoots for the alleged roles, according to the lawsuit. The two former students who filed the suit, Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, said the school offered a $750 master class for sex scenes that required prospective students to send in audition tapes—so Franco could review the material.
The students say they had to sign away their rights to those sensitive tapes, and were denied the protections of nudity riders and other film-industry guidelines that are in place to protect actors being portrayed in nude scenes. The lawsuit seeks the return or destruction of video recordings of former Studio 4 students, monetary damages, and a class-action status so that women who may have similar experiences can join.
Tither Kaplan, along with four other women, first accused Franco of inappropriate and abusive sexual behavior in a Los Angeles Times article published last year. “I can’t sleep at night knowing that my coming forward, originally, did not do the work that I wanted it to do yet,” she said of the initial allegation. “There still has been no action, publicly, that shows me that these people know what they did is wrong and harmful and can’t been repeated.”