In recent years we've seen several men in Hollywood facing legal repercussions for alleged sexual misconduct. In some cases this has resulted in jail time for the offenders, but the legal dealings of actor James Franco of late have been somewhat unique. Namely because the actor has never been charged with a crime, but instead was dealing with a class action lawsuit brought by students of an acting school he ran. Alleged sexual misconduct was still at the heart of the lawsuit, but now the suit has reportedly been settled, with Franco and others paying out more than $2 million.
According to THR, James Franco and "associated entities" have agreed to pay a total of $2,235,000 to the various members of the lawsuit that was brought against Franco and his Studio 4 acting school. The lawsuit alleged that female students were forced to participate in increasingly explicit sex scenes on camera as part of a class. This is part of an out of court settlement and still needs to be approved by a Los Angeles judge.
Because this was a class action suit rather than a more traditional civil action, we know more about the inner workings than we likely otherwise would. Normally, the parties aren't required to publicly disclose the terms of a settlement, but the rules are different for a class action. We even know how the various parties will be paid out from the settlement. Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, the two named plaintiffs in the suit, will receive $670,500 and $223,500 respectively, minus legal fees. The rest will be divided among the remaining parties, again, minus legal fees.
The settlement also includes the release of a statements by the defendants which, while it continues to deny the allegations, does state that the lawsuit has raised important issues and that the mistreatment of women in Hollywood is a topic that needs to be addressed.
Members of the class action suit have a couple of months to make the decision to accept the settlement and release their claims of fraud against the actor, or reject the settlement and move forward with their own separate legal claims. Any money that's left unclaimed will be donated to the National Women’s Law Center.
James Franco has been dealing with allegations of sexual misconduct that date back to at least 2018. Recently, Franco's frequent collaborator Seth Rogen made it clear that he has distanced himself from the actor due to the allegations. While not admitting to any wrong doing, it will be interesting to see where Franco's career goes from here. He's been less in the public eye of late. He was previously set to direct and co-star in the upcoming Pam & Tommy series for Hulu, but at some point he left the project, though the reason why has never been specified.