Entertainment News

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 27: Actor James Franco attends IFP's 27th Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards on November 27, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for IFP)

A settlement deal has been reached for the 2019 lawsuit alleging that James Franco intimidated his students into gratuitous and exploitative sexual situations at the acting school he founded.

According to a joint status report filed on February 11, two of Franco’s former students at his now defunct Studio 4 school, Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, have agreed to drop their individual claims. Yahoo! Entertainment reports their sexual exploitation claims are also being dismissed without prejudice, which leaves them open to being re-filed. Fraud allegations brought forward in the class-action suit will also be subject to limited release.

Attorneys from the firm of Valli Kane & Vagnini, LLP, representing the plaintiffs, confirmed the agreement in a statement to The Associated Press on Saturday night. They claimed it will be “further memorialized in a Joint Stipulation of Settlement to be filed with the Court at a later date,” but provided no further comment or details on any possible monetary exchange.

Named defendants included Franco’s production company, Rabbit Bandini, and his partners Vince Jolivette and Jay Davis.

According to their class-action suit, Franco had allegedly forced his students to perform explicit sex scenes on camera in what they described as an “orgy-type setting” during a master class he held on sex scenes. Tither-Kaplan and Gaal also alleged that Franco led students to believe that roles in his films would become available to them if they followed along.

Deadline reports, Franco’s attorneys responded to the claims in a previous filing, calling them “false and inflammatory, legally baseless and brought as a class action with the obvious goal of grabbing as much publicity as possible for attention-hungry Plaintiffs.”

The deal will be submitted for preliminary court approval by March 15.

Tither-Kaplan first alleged claims of sexual misconduct against Franco in early 2018 after he won a Golden Globe for his role in The Disaster Artist, the height of the #MeToo movement. Since the allegations came to light, Franco has kept out of the spotlight, though he still has several film and television projects in the works.