Five women have come forward with more details on the sexual misconduct allegations against actor James Franco. Just days after he won a Golden Globe Award, the women—four of whom say they were students at his film school—claim that Franco demonstrated sexually exploitative or inappropriate behavior against them while serving as their teacher or mentor.
“I feel there was an abuse of power, and there was a culture of exploiting non-celebrity women, and a culture of women being replaceable,” said 39-year-old Sarah Tither-Kaplan to the Los Angeles Times. The women say some believed that working with Franco could lead them to career advancement in Hollywood. They describe uncomfortable working environments, including sex scenes that made them uneasy. Tither-Kaplan said she was in a nude orgy scene with Franco years ago and he removed protective plastic safeguards covering the actresses’ vaginas while simulating oral sex on them.
In addition to incidents alleged at Franco's school, Studio 4, actresses said that the 39-year-old put them in uncomfortable working situations when he taught at the Playhouse West in North Hollywood. Hilary Dusome, 33, said Franco was "a really generous spirit" eager to help aspiring actors but then asked her to be in what she was described as an unprofessional and hostile shoot at a strip club. "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," she 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."
Another student, Katie Ryan, took several classes at Studio 4. She shared 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."
Franco's legal team has denied the allegations as has his business partner in Studio 4. The actor recently appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and denounced the assertions personally. “Look, in my life I pride myself on taking responsibility for things that I have done,” he said. “I have to do that to maintain my well being. 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. So I don’t want to shut them down in any way.”
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