On the heels of actor James Franco winning several Golden Globe Awards on Sunday, several woman have accused him sexual misconduct and inappropriate behavior.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Sarah Tither-Kaplan, a former acting student at Franco’s now-closed Studio4 acting school, is one of the women who claim Franco used his celebrity status and “power” to exploit her for sexual purposes.
“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,” Tither-Kaplan told the Times. “I got it in my head pretty quickly that, OK, you don’t say ‘no’ to this guy.”
According to Tither-Kaplan, Franco removed plastic shields that covered the private parts of women who filmed a “nude orgy” scene with her and the actor. In a project entitled, “Hungry Girl,” Tither-Kaplan also admitted she was topless for a scene, but she had no idea it would be uploaded online for the world to see.
This is my maximum Halloween effort this year. Sitting in front of someone else's costume. pic.twitter.com/jkK2Zj5wkj
— Sarah Tither-Kaplan? (@sarahtk) October 30, 2017
“Now, if you Google me, you can see me naked,” said Tither-Kaplan. “Before I’ve ever been on TV or before I’ve ever had any real credits or before any of this — of course I regret that. I don’t want that.”
Two additional women, who took classes that Franco taught at Playhouse West in North Hollywood in 2012, said that he put them in uncomfortable situations that went beyond normal flirting. Hilary Dusome, 33, told the Times that she was chosen to take part in an acting project, along with fellow acting student, Natalie Chmiel, 33, and other female actors. They were told their parts would appear in an upcoming 7 For All Mankind jeans commercial.
Dusome said that around halfway through filming, Franco asked the women if any of them would take their tops off. When none of the actresses agreed, Franco reportedly became upset and stormed away, according to Dusome. She also claimed her “nice breasts” is likely what landed her the part.
“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. 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.”
Chmiel agreed with Dusome’s assessment of the incident and added that Franco became “visibly angry” when the women refused to take their tops off.
“He just took advantage of our eagerness to work and be a part of something bigger,” Chmiel told the Times. “We were all these up-and-coming actors who were so hopeful.”
As CrimeOnline previously reported, a former acting student at Franco’s Studio4 school took to Twitter and announced that Franco sexually abused her in 2016.
“Hey James Franco, nice #timesup pin at the #GoldenGlobes, remember a few weeks ago when you told me the full nudity you had me do in two of your movies for $100/day wasn’t exploitative because I signed a contract to do it? Times up on that!” Twitter user Violet Paley wrote on Monday.
— Violet Paley (@VioletPaley) December 3, 2016
Paley, according to the Times, admitted that she and Franco began a romantic relationship in 2016. Yet, his actions, she said, made her uncomfortable, especially when they were in her car and he allegedly pressured her into oral sex, something she said she had never done before.
“I was talking to him, all of a sudden his penis was out,” said Paley. “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.”
Paley said if the incident happened today, she would have handled it differently.
“I would say, ‘No, stop, get out of my car,’” she said. “The power dynamic was really off.”
Praise for James Franco
Amid the sexual misconduct allegations, numerous former students at Franco’s school remember things a bit differently. The Times reported that more than a dozen former students spoke with the outlet and had nothing but nice things to say about the actor. Many were shocked when Studio4 inexplicably closed its doors permanently, as their experiences there were positive.
“If he felt the class wasn’t enough, he would take us writers to a separate venue outside of class. He would keep teaching us over and over again,” former student Prashant Thakker said.
Michael Plonsker, speaking on behalf of Franco, denied the allegations. The actor also appeared on James Colbert’s talk show and said he didn’t think he did anything wrong, but he’s willing to “fix it” if he did.
“If I’ve done something wrong, I will fix it,” Franco told Colbert. “I have to. I don’t know what else to do. As far as the bigger issue of how we do it, I really don’t have the answers. I think the point of this whole thing is that we listen. I’m here to listen and learn and change my perspective where it’s off.”
The story continues. Check back with CrimeOnline as additional details becomes available.
[Feature Photo: James Franco via AP/Dennis Van Tine/STAR MAX/IPx ]