Franco denies vagina guard claim
JAMES Franco is being told 'Time's Up' by five women who have accused him of sexual misconduct in a bombshell report from the Los Angeles Times, four of whom were his students.
"I feel there was an abuse of power, and there was a culture of exploiting non-celebrity women, and a culture of women being replaceable," said Sarah Tither-Kaplan, who also tweeted her allegations against Franco, 39, on Sunday during the Golden Globes.
The New York Post reports that Tither-Kaplan, 26, claimed that while filming an orgy scene for a project for Franco's Studio 4 film school three years ago, Franco removed protective plastic guards covering the actresses' vaginas.
In the scene, Franco simulated oral sex on the women. Another actress confirmed this account in the report.
The Times reported two other women on the shoot recalled negative experiences and that Franco allegedly got angry when actresses refused to go topless in scenes.
Tither-Kaplan alleged that Franco asked her to play a prostitute in the film The Long Home, which starred Courtney Love, Josh Hutcherson and Timothy Hutton.
The part required her to perform nude, and Tither-Kaplan signed nudity agreements for her scenes, but claimed that she became increasingly uncomfortable after the plastic guards were allegedly removed during the orgy scenes, leading her to regret performing in the film at all.
She also claimed that one actress who declined to appear topless in a scene was sent home, noting, "I got it in my head pretty quickly that, OK, you don't say 'no' to this guy."
Franco's lawyers, Michael Plonsker, said, "The allegations about the protective guards are not accurate."
Mr Plonsker also provided a statement from The Long Home casting director Cynthia Huffman, in which she claimed she did not receive any complaints during filming and that she "personally checked on all the actresses constantly to make sure they were OK and comfortable."
"James is all about giving up-and-comers, actors and actresses and young filmmakers a break in this business," Ms Huffman said in the statement. "I feel horrible that anyone was made to feel uncomfortable but we went to great lengths to make sure all the actresses in the nude scenes felt comfortable and safe."
Studio 4 closed in fall 2014; a dozen former students told the Times they'd had positive experiences at the school.
Tither-Kaplan did note that Franco apologised to her in late 2017 following the avalanche of allegations of sexual misconduct that plagued Harvey Weinstein.
"I want to give him credit for at least being open to communicating with me," she said. "I felt that he was still not really taking accountability for the environment on the sets."
Hilary Dusome took one of Franco's classes in 2012 at the Playhouse West in North Hollywood.
She accused Franco of asking her to go topless in a scene for a commercial.
"I felt like I was selected for something based on my hard work and my merit, and when I realised it was because I have nice [breasts], it was pretty clear that was not the case," Dusome, 33, lamented. "I don't think he started teaching with bad intentions, but he went down a bad path and damaged a lot of people in the process."
Katie Ryan, another of Franco's former students, alleged that the actor "would always make everybody think there were possible roles on the table if we were to perform sexual acts or take off our shirts."
Another accuser, actress Violet Paley, was in a romantic relationship with Franco. She accused The Disaster Artist star of pressuring her to perform oral sex on him in a car.
"I was talking to him, all of a sudden his penis was out," she told the Times. "I got really nervous, and I said, 'Can we do this later?' He was kind of nudging my head down, and I just didn't want him to hate me, so I did it." She began to perform the act but quickly told Franco she saw someone near the car in order to end the situation without a conflict.
"The power dynamic was way off," she recalled.
Paley claimed that she emailed Franco following the Weinstein reports and that he apologised to her in a phone call, telling her, "I'm a changed man."
Franco's lawyer denied Paley's allegations, claiming they were "not accurate."
Franco has addressed the accusations on the late-night circuit.
On Wednesday, he told Seth Meyers the allegations against him, including actress Ally Sheedy's vague tweets, befuddled him, but that he refused to silence his accusers.
"There are people that need to be heard. I have my own side of this story, but I believe in these people that have been under-represented getting their stories out enough that I will hold back things that I could say, just because I believe in it that much," he said. "So if I have to take a knock because I'm not going to try and actively refute things, then I will, because I believe in it that much."
On Tuesday, Franco told Stephen Colbert that the flurry of allegations on Twitter was "not accurate," adding, "In my life, I pride myself in taking responsibility for things I've done. I have to do that to maintain my wellbeing. I do it whenever something needs to be changed … If I have done something wrong, I will fix it - I have to. That's how that works. I don't know what else to do."
This article originally appeared in the New York Post and is republished here with permission