Golden Globe-winning actor James Franco has been accused of sexual misconduct by five women.
The allegations, published in the Los Angeles Times on Thursday, accused Franco of engaging in sexually exploitative behaviour by the women – four of whom he taught at his New York acting school, Studio 4.
Sarah Tither-Kaplan, a former student, said Franco’s behaviour became predatory on the set of the 2015 film The Long Home when he removed protective plastic guards covering their bodies while simulating an oral sex scene.
“I got it in my head pretty quickly that, OK, you don’t say ‘no’ to this guy,” she said according to the Times.
“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.”
Another student, Hilary Dusome claimed Franco would act inappropriately on film sets, creating a hostile environment. She alleged Franco asked her to take her shirt off while filming a commercial.
“I felt like I was selected for something based on my hard work and my merit, and when I realized it was because I have nice [breasts], it was pretty clear that was not the case,” Dusome said.
“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.”
Two other students said Franco would often become angry on set when they would refuse to film topless.
Franco opened two Studio 4 schools in Los Angeles and New York in 2014 before abruptly closing in October 2017.
The actor has been answering allegations since his Golden Globes appearance on Sunday sparked criticism on Twitter, where he was seen wearing a Time’s Up pin in support combatting sexual harassment.
Cute #TIMESUP pin James Franco. Remember the time you pushed my head down in a car towards your exposed penis & that other time you told my friend to come to your hotel when she was 17? After you had already been caught doing that to a different 17 year old?
— Violet Paley (@VioletPaley) January 8, 2018
Franco has appeared on multiple late night shows this week and repeatedly denied the accusations.
“I did read them, I haven’t responded,” Franco said on Late Night with Seth Meyers on Wednesday.
“I think the ones I read were not accurate, but one of the things that I’ve learned is that this is a conversation that needs to be had. There are people and women and others that have not been a part of this conversation, and I truly believe — and (it’s) why I was wearing the pin — is that they need to be a part of this conversation. So I support them.”
Stephen Colbert also asked Franco about the allegations during his appearance on Tuesday night’s episode of the Late Show.
“In my life, I pride myself on taking responsibility for things that I’ve done,” he said. “The things I heard that were on Twitter are not accurate, but I completely support people coming out and being able to have a voice, because they didn’t have a voice for so long. So, I don’t want to shut them down in any way. It’s, I think, a good thing, and I support it.”
Franco’s attorney, Michael Plonsker, also disputed all of the women’s claims in statements to the Times.