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A tentative settlement has been reached in a lawsuit that alleged James Franco intimidated students at an acting and film school he founded into gratuitous and exploitative sexual situations, attorneys for the plaintiffs said Saturday.
The two sides filed a joint status report in Los Angeles Superior Court telling a judge a settlement had been reached in the class-action lawsuit brought by former students at the now-defunct school, Studio 4, though elements of the lawsuit may live on.
The document was filed on Feb 11, but the settlement has not previously been 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 agreement, according to the court filing.
Their lawsuit said Franco pushed his students into performing in increasingly explicit scenes on camera that went far beyond those acceptable on Hollywood film sets. It alleged that Franco “sought 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 led to believe roles in Franco’s films would be available to those who went along.
The lawsuit said the incidents occurred in a master class on sex scenes that Franco taught at Studio 4, which opened in 2014 and closed in 2017. The two sides had been in discussions on a settlement for several months, and the lawsuit’s progress had been paused while they talked.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys from the firm of Valli Kane & Vagnini, LLP, confirmed the agreement in a statement to The Associated Press on Saturday night, adding that it will be “further memorialized in a Joint Stipulation of Settlement to be filed with the Court at a later date,” but giving no further comment or details. After-hours emails seeking comment