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James Franco's former students sue alleging sexual exploitation

2 women sue James Franco and his acting school

Two actresses have sued James Franco and the acting and film school he founded, saying the actor intimidated his students into gratuitous and exploitative sexual situations. Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, former students at Franco's now-closed Studio 24, filed the suit Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court.

The lawsuit says Franco pushed his students into performing in increasingly explicit sex scenes on camera in an "orgy type setting." The women say roles in Franco's films would be dangled to those who went along.

The suit also alleges "the school's true goal was creating a constant pipeline of women Franco and others could exploit professionally and place in compromising sexual situations." It also alleges that "Franco took the 'casting couch' to another level by creating a 'casting class.'"

Tither-Kaplan spoke of her experience with Franco previously with the Los Angeles Times. Gaal is coming forward for the first time.

Franco's publicist did not immediately respond to an Associated Press email seeking comment. He has previously called similar allegations inaccurate.

Late Thursday, Franco's attorney, Michael Plonsker, said the actor will seek damages against the plaintiffs and their attorneys for the lawsuit, according to Variety.

"This is not the first time that these claims have been made and they have already been debunked," Plonsker said. "We have not had an opportunity to review the ill-informed Complaint in depth since it was leaked to the press before it was filed and our client has yet to even be served. 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."

James Franco
James Franco seen January 21, 2018. Getty
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