James Franco accusers call him ‘completely insensitive’ after interviewon December 24, 2021 at 10:09 am

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Oscar-nominated actor James Franco recently admitted having sex with students at his drama school.

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Lawyers for two of the women accusing actor James Franco of sexual misconduct have said his admission that he had sex with students from his acting school is “completely insensitive”.

The statement, given to US media by lawyers for actresses Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, said the star was “blind about power dynamics”.

They called the drama school a “sham”.

Franco told a podcast earlier this week that while teaching, he “did sleep with students, and that was wrong”.

The actor was nominated for best actor at the 2011 Oscars for Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours and is also known for his roles in Milk and the Spider-Man films.

He agreed to pay $2.2m (£1.6m) in July after being sued for engaging in “sexually-charged behaviour towards female students”.

Actor James Franco at the 75th Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California, in January 2018

Image source, Getty Images

A statement from two law firms added: “It is unbelievable that even after agreeing to a settlement he continues to downplay the survivors’ experiences and ignore their pain, despite acknowledging he had no business starting such a school in the first place.

“In addition to being blind about power dynamics, Franco is completely insensitive to, and still apparently does not care about, the immense pain and suffering he put his victims through with this sham of an acting school.”

They said his behaviour “wasn’t a misunderstanding over a course name, it wasn’t the result of him being overworked – it was, and is, despicable conduct”.

They added that “nobody should confuse this interview with Franco taking accountability for his actions or expressing remorse over what happened”, calling it a “transparent ducking of the real issues released just before a major holiday in hopes that he wouldn’t face any scrutiny over his response”.

Tither-Kaplan said on Twitter: “Platforming abusers while excluding survivors causes even further harm. Survivor blacklisting is still a very real problem.”

‘Objectified and intimidated’

Franco told The Jess Cagle podcast he had not started the school to lure women for sex and that he had remained quiet over the allegations because “there were people that were upset with me and I needed to listen”.

Tither-Kaplan and Gaal, who attended Franco’s now-defunct Studio 4 acting school, alleged he tried to “create a pipeline of young women who were subjected to his personal and professional sexual exploitation in the name of education”.

The class action lawsuit – filed in Los Angeles in 2019 – alleged he abused his position and dangled opportunities for roles in his films.

Students claimed they were victims of fraud for paying for the acting school while being sexually objectified and intimidated.

When the allegations first surfaced, Franco said they were “not accurate”, but he made payments to Tither-Kaplan and Gaal, as well as other students who filed complaints.

In excerpts from the podcast that were made public on Wednesday, Franco said he had been in recovery from sex addiction since 2016 and had “been doing a lot of work” after the allegations against him “and changing who I was”.

“I suppose at the time, my thinking was, if it’s consensual, OK,” he told the podcast on SiriusXM.

Asked how he could have been unaware of the potential for power dynamics between a teacher and student to skew the concept of consent, Franco responded: “At the time, I was not clear-headed.

“I was in recovery before for substance abuse. There were some issues that I had to deal with that were also related to addiction.

“And so I’ve really used my recovery background to kind of start examining this and changing who I was.”

If you have been affected by sexual misconduct, there is help available via theBBC Action Line.

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