Earlier this week, James Franco granted his first interview in nearly four years.
Back in January of 2018, Franco was accused of sexual harassment by two women, Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, both of whom had attended his acting school.
The women sued Franco, and the case was settled out of court for $2,235,000.
The matter was far from settled, however, as the deal was reached amid accusations from several other students.
On December 23, Franco appeared on Sirius XM’s “Jess Cagle Show,” where he discussed the allegations in detail for the first time.
Franco admitted that he had slept with several of his students, but he says that all sexual encounters were consensual.
“Over the course of my teaching, I did sleep with students, and that was wrong,” the actor told Cagle.
“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,” Franco continued.
“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.”
Now, Tither-Kaplan and Gaal have issued a joint statement in which they condemn Franco’s attempt at explaining away his misconduct.
“In addition to being blind about power dynamics, Franco is completely insensitive to, and still apparently does not care about, the immense pain and suffering he put his victims through with this sham of an acting school,” read the statement, according to People magazine.
“It is unbelievable that even after agreeing to a settlement he continues to downplay the survivors’ experiences and ignore their pain, despite acknowledging he had no business starting such a school in the first place,” the victims continued.
“This wasn’t a misunderstanding over a course name, it wasn’t the result of him being overworked — it was, and is, despicable conduct.”
Gaal and Tither-Kaplan went on to emphasize that Franco should be in no lauded for the comments he offered this week.
“Nobody should confuse this interview with Franco taking accountability for his actions or expressing remorse over what happened,” they wrote.
“It is a transparent ducking of the real issues released just before a major holiday in hopes that he wouldn’t face any scrutiny over his response.”
In 2018, Tither-Kaplan and Gaal claimed that Franco and the school’s other founders “engaged in widespread inappropriate and sexually charged behavior towards female students by sexualizing their power as a teacher and an employer by dangling the opportunity for roles in their projects,”
The women further alleged that Franco’s behavior “led to an environment of harassment and sexual exploitation both in and out of the class.”
Both parties agreed to the following joint statement as part of their out-of-court settlement:
“While Defendants continue to deny the allegations in the Complaint, they acknowledge that Plaintiffs have raised important issues; and all parties strongly believe that now is a critical time to focus on addressing the mistreatment of women in Hollywood.
“All agree on the need to make sure that no one in the entertainment industry — regardless of race, religion, disability, ethnicity, background, gender or sexual orientation — faces discrimination, harassment or prejudice of any kind.”
We’ll have further updates on this developing story as more information becomes available.