James Franco Agrees to Pay $2.2 Million to Settle Sexual Misconduct Lawsuit
By Liz Calvario
James Franco has agreed to pay $2,235,000 to settle his sexual misconduct lawsuit. According to court documents obtained by ET on Wednesday, the actor and his associated entities filed the paperwork on June 24. At this time, a Los Angeles judge still needs to sign off on the settlement.
Back in February, ET confirmed that Franco reached a settlement in a 2019 lawsuit by former students at his now-defunct Studio 4 acting school. The suit was filed by two women, Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, who accused Franco of creating an environment of harassment and sexual exploitation. Franco's attorney, Michael Plonsker, denied the claims in a previous statement to ET.
At the time, Tither-Kaplan and Gaal agreed to drop their individual claims in a joint status filed on Feb. 11. Their sexual exploitation claims were also dismissed without prejudice, so they could be re-filed. Allegations of fraud brought forward in the suit were subject to limited release.
In the new documents, and if the judge approves, it states that Tither-Kaplan will receive $670,500 minus $223,500 less in fees going to the lawyers. Gaal will get $223,500 minus $74,500 to the lawyers. The other students will get almost two-thirds of the remaining pot of $1.341 million with the lawyers' total take being around $827,000.
Additionally, the actor agreed to a "non-economic relief," which was present to the court under seal for review and approval. It also states that the two women and the other students will have to release all claims against Franco.
In a joint statement, the parties involved said: "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 addressing the mistreatment of women in Hollywood. All agree on the need to make sure that no one in the entertainment industry — regardless of race, religion, disability, ethnicity, background, gender or sexual orientation — faces discrimination, harassment or prejudice of any kind."
In their lawsuit, Tither-Kaplan and Gaal claimed Studio 4 was a scheme to provide Franco and his male partners with young women they could take advantage of. They alleged they were subjected to sexually exploitative auditions and film shoots with promises of getting roles in movies that never materialized or were released.
In a statement to ET in 2019, Franco's attorney, Plonsker, denied the claims. "This is not the first time that these claims have been made and they have already been debunked," he said, adding, "James will not only fully defend himself, but will also seek damages from the plaintiffs and their attorneys for filing this scurrilous publicity seeking lawsuit."