LOS ANGELES (AP) A tentative settlement has been reached in a lawsuit that James Franco allegedly intimidated students at a theater and film school he founded into gratuitous and abusive sex, said Saturday the plaintiffs’ lawyers.
The two parties have filed a joint situation report in Los Angeles Superior Court, telling a judge that a settlement has been reached in the class action lawsuit brought by former students of the now-defunct school, Studio 4 , although elements of the trial may endure.
The document was filed on February 11, but the settlement has yet to be reported.
Actresses and ex-students Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, who first filed the lawsuit in 2019, have agreed to drop their individual claims under the deal, according to the court record. According to their lawsuit, Franco pushed his students to perform in increasingly explicit sex scenes on camera in an orgy-like setting that went far beyond what is acceptable on Hollywood movie sets.
He alleged that Franco was seeking to create a pipeline of young women who were subjected to his personal and professional sexual exploitation in the name of education, “and that students were tricked into believing that the roles in the Francos films would be available. for those who would accompany them.
The lawsuit said the incidents occurred in a master class on the sex scenes Franco was teaching at Studio 4, which opened in 2014 and closed in 2017.
The two sides had been negotiating a settlement for several months, and progress in the trial was halted as they spoke.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys at Valli Kane & Vagnini, LLP, confirmed the deal in a statement to The Associated Press on Saturday evening, adding that it will be further commemorated in a joint settlement clause that will be filed with the court later. date ”, but giving no other comments or details.
After-hours emails requesting comments from defendants’ lawyers were not immediately returned.
In a previous court filing, Franco’s lawyers, while praising the #MeToo movement that helped inspire the lawsuit, called his claims “bogus and inflammatory, without legal basis and brought as a class action lawsuit in the obvious goal of attracting as much publicity as possible to gain attention – the hungry complainants who pointed out that Tither-Kaplan had already expressed gratitude for the opportunity to work with Franco.
The lawsuit also names production company Francos Rabbit Bandini and its partners, including Vince Jolivette and Jay Davis, as defendants.
The sexual exploitation allegations of other plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit will be dismissed without prejudice, meaning they can be re-filed, the joint situation report says.
Allegations of fraud made by these complainants will be subject to limited disclosure, the document said, without further details or explanation.
The document does not reveal how much money can be involved in the deal.
Before filing a complaint, Tither-Kaplan aired his allegations of sexual misconduct against Franco with other women in the Los Angeles Times after Franco won a Golden Globe Award for The Disaster Artist “in early 2018, when the wave of the #MeToo movement was sweeping through Hollywood.
In a subsequent interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Franco called stories of sexual misconduct about him inaccurate, but said: If I did something wrong, I’ll fix it. I must.
Franco, 42, best known for starring in comedies with Seth Rogen, has generally kept a low profile since the allegations arose in what had been a very productive period that culminated with the famous Disaster Artist.
Follow AP Entertainment editor Andrew Dalton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton
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