Five women have accused actor James Franco of inappropriate or sexually exploitative behavior, according to The Los Angeles Times.
The Times on Thursday reported that four of the women are former students of Franco’s, while the fifth said he was her mentor.
Some of the women said they thought Franco could advance their careers, adding that they conceded to his requests even when they were uncomfortable.
“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, a former acting student at the film school Franco founded.
“I got it in my head pretty quickly that, OK, you don’t say ‘no’ to this guy,” she added of her experiences with Franco.
Franco first taught at Playhouse West in North Hollywood, California, a school where he also received acting training.
The actor in 2014 then launched his own school, Studio 4, with one outpost in Los Angeles and another in New York City soon afterwards.
Studio 4 abruptly closed both locations last year after Franco helped mentor and teach hundreds of acting and film-making hopefuls.
Two of Franco’s former students at Playhouse West said he put female students in uncomfortable situations beyond the normal limits of an acting class in 2012.
Natalie Chmiel on Thursday said Franco became “visibly angry” when several women declined to remove their tops for a scene.
Tither-Kaplan on Thursday recalled that she participated with Franco and several other women in a nude orgy scene three years ago.
The actress added that Franco removed protective plastic guards covering the participants’ vaginas while simulating oral sex with them.
Violet Paley on Thursday admitted Franco began mentoring her in 2016 while she pursued filmmaking.
The aspiring movie-maker added that she had a consensual romantic relationship with Franco, but alleged that he ultimately pressured her into performing oral sex despite her discomfort.
Franco’s attorney Michael Plonsker on Thursday disputed all five women’s allegations, directing The Times to Franco’s public comments on them last Tuesday.
“Look, in my life I pride myself on taking responsibility for things that I have done,” he said on CBS’s “The Late Show.” “I have to do that to maintain my well being.”
“The things that I heard that were on Twitter are not accurate,” Franco added of recent accusations of inappropriate behavior against him.
“But I completely support 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. If I have done something wrong, I will fix it – I have to.”