James Franco has admitted to sleeping with students from his acting school almost four years after he was hit with allegations of sexual misconduct.
The 127 Hours actor was accused in January 2018 by five women, including four of his former pupils, of sexually inappropriate behaviour, after which two of his accusers and former students went on to launch legal action.
The lawsuit accused Franco and his business partners at the Playhouse West Studio 4 school of engaging ‘in widespread inappropriate and sexually charged behaviour towards female students by sexualising their power as a teacher and an employer by dangling the opportunity for roles in their projects’.
Franco had said the initial allegations made against him in 2018 were ‘not accurate’, but earlier this year it was reported he had agreed to pay $2.23m (£1.67m) to settle the lawsuit. This week, Franco admitted on SiriusXM’s Jess Cagle Show that he ‘did sleep with students’ at the school which he co-founded in 2014.
The actor made reference to a ‘sex scenes’ masterclass class which had been cited in the lawsuit, where he was accused of having ‘intimidated [students] into performing gratuitous sex scenes’, and argued the class was about ‘contemporary romance’ rather than sex scenes, saying: ‘It was a provocative title.’
Per The Independent, he continued:
Look, I’ll admit, I did sleep with students. I didn’t sleep with anybody in that particular class, but over the course of my teaching I did sleep with students, and that was wrong.
But like I said, it’s not why I started the school and I wasn’t the person that selected the people to be in the class. So it wasn’t a ‘master plan’ on my part. But yes, there were certain instances where, you know what, I was in a consensual thing with a student and I shouldn’t have been.
Franco claimed he was ‘not clear-headed’ during the period in which the encounters took place, and said that his thinking at the time was ‘if it’s consensual, okay’.
He said it ‘did not seem like the right time to say anything’ when the allegations against him first emerged, stressing there were ‘people that were upset’ with him and that he needed ‘to listen’.
Franco explained on the podcast that he has been in recovery from sex addiction since 2016, and had ‘been doing a lot of work’ after the allegations against him came out.
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