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Five Women Accuse James Franco of Sexually Inappropriate Behavior or Abuse of Power in the LA Times

The accusations, which Franco calls “not accurate,” include misconduct while filming sex scenes.

James Franco poses backstage after winning the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture.
James Franco poses backstage after winning the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture.
REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Following James Franco’s win at the Golden Globes on Sunday, at least two women took to social media to accuse the actor of hypocrisy for wearing a “Time’s Up” pin as part of the evening’s anti-sexual harassment and anti-sexual assault protest, which led Franco to address those accusations on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. Now, as Franco continues to field questions about the allegations against him while trying to promote The Disaster Artist, the Los Angeles Times has published the accounts of five women (including two of the women whose tweets went viral, but not actress Ally Sheedy, who seemed to hint at sexual misconduct but later deleted her tweets), who accuse Franco of actions that were exploitative or sexually inappropriate or abused his position of power.

Franco’s attorney, Michael Plonsker, challenged the allegations laid out in the article and referred the Times to Franco’s comments on the Late Show. “In my life, I pride myself on taking responsibility for the things that I’ve done,” Franco said during that interview on Tuesday. “The things that 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 […] I don’t want to shut them down in any way.”

Four of the women in the Times piece are described as former students of Franco’s at either Playhouse West in North Hollywood or at Studio 4, the school Franco launched in 2014 until it was closed in October of last year. Two of these former students describe a shoot at a strip club in which Franco asked if any of the women present wanted to take their shirts off and became “visibly angry” when they would not. Another former student says that Franco “would always make everybody think there were possible roles on the table if we were to perform sexual acts or take off our shirts” and that she received mass email requests looking to cast actresses to play prostitutes. Franco’s lawyer challenged all of these allegations and denied that Franco asked the women to remove their shirts.

Sarah Tither-Kaplan, who had tweeted about Franco’s behavior shortly before the Globes ceremony, appeared in an orgy scene in Franco’s film The Long Home, during which, she says, Franco “removed a clear plastic guard that covered their vaginas” while simulating oral sex on women for the scene. Franco’s attorney characterizes that as “not accurate,” and provided a statement from the film’s casting director Cynthia Huffman who said that she received no complaints and “personally checked on all the actresses constantly to make sure they were ok and comfortable.”

Tither-Kaplan told the Times that Franco had apologized “for making her feel uncomfortable” last year shortly after the floodgates opened on Harvey Weinstein’s behavior. The movie, which was filmed in 2015, still hasn’t been released.

Besides the four students who have spoken out, Franco’s other accuser is Violet Paley, the other woman whose tweet went viral after the Globes:

Paley elaborated on the first part of the accusation to the Times. “I was talking to him, all of a sudden his penis was out,” said Paley, who was in a romantic relationship with the actor. “I got really nervous, and I said, ‘Can we do this later?’ He was kind of nudging my head down, and I just didn’t want him to hate me, so I did it.” She added that, to end the encounter, she told Franco she saw someone close to the car. She did not elaborate on the other accusation. According to Paley, she and Franco later continued the romantic relationship, but she says that if the interaction happened again, after the revelations about Harvey Weinstein and others, “I would say, ‘No, stop, get out of my car.’”

Franco’s lawyer denied Paley’s allegations, saying they were “not accurate.” Paley confronted Franco about their experiences over email, and though he didn’t initially respond, Paley said he later attempted to make amends for some of his behavior, saying that though he didn’t do “anything illegal,” he was “a changed man.” As the Times notes, he had said, in an a cover story in Out magazine last summer, that he’d embarked on a “new chapter of my life,” saying that he’d started surfing and dancing as “a kind of therapy” instead of indulging an addiction to work and “other things—not substances, I got over that a long time ago.”

Franco’s behavior was previously under scrutiny in 2014 for trying to pick up a 17-year-old girl on Instagram. Though some thought that the story might have been a publicity stunt, on ABC’s Live! With Kelly and Michael, Franco admitted to flirting with the teenager, saying, “I used bad judgment and I learned my lesson.”

Voting on the nominations for the Academy Awards began on Jan. 5 and ends Friday. The nominations will be announced Jan. 23.

For the rest of the story, head over to the Los Angeles Times.

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