Actor James Franco and two other men have agreed to pay more than $2 million to settle a lawsuit filed by former students at his since-shuttered acting school who say they were defrauded and sexually exploited.
According to NPR, Franco, Jay Davis, Vince Jolivette and their production company Rabbit Bandini Films agreed to pay $2.2 million to several students who had joined a class-action lawsuit.
The settlement, first reported by The Hollywood Reporter, was filed on June 24 but made public on Wednesday.
The suit was filed in 2017 by Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, former students at Franco's Studio 4 acting school. NBC News reports that suit accused Franco and others of "sexualize their power and fame by dangling the opportunity to aspiring actors of employment in film and television."
Tither-Kaplan told NPR that she auditioned and paid extra money to take a class with Franco called "Sex Scenes." She said she thought Franco would teach her how to act in sex scenes professionally but says she says he used the class to exploit her.
"I did what seemed to be the thing that they wanted in this class, and that was get naked and do sex scenes and not complain and push the envelope," she told NPR.
Franco and the other defendants did not admit wrongdoing as part of the settlement and continue to deny the allegations.
"While Defendants continue to deny the allegations in the complaint, they acknowledge that Plaintiffs have raised important issues; and all parties strongly believe that now is a critical time to focus on address the mistreatment of women in Hollywood," the defendants and accusers said in a joint statement issued Wednesday, according to NBC.