Nearly four years after James Franco was accused of sexual misconduct, the actor has made his first public attempt to address the allegations – but there’s still no sign of an apology.
It’s been nearly four years since a number of allegations of sexual misconduct emerged suggesting that James Franco had behaved inappropriately towards a number of women at his former acting school based in Los Angeles and New York City. The allegations, which surfaced in the wake of the Time’s Up movement, came four years after he’d propositioned a 17-year-old British girl on Instagram, even after he learned her age.
Now, Franco has acknowledged in public for the first time that he did sleep with students from an acting school he previously ran, citing problems with sex addiction.
In an interview with The Jess Cagle Podcast, Franco admitted that while teaching, he “did sleep with students, and that was wrong”, although he said he had not started the school with the intention of luring women for sexual purposes.
“I suppose at the time, my thinking was if it’s consensual, OK,” he added in the SiriusXM podcast. “At the time I was not clearheaded.”
The actor went on to explain that he had developed a sex addiction after he became sober from an alcohol addiction he developed at a young age.
“It’s such a powerful drug,” he continued. “I got hooked on it for 20 more years. The insidious part of that is that I stayed sober from alcohol all that time.”
The remarks are the first time Franco has addressed the accusations since the Los Angeles Times published an explosive report in January 2018 with detailed allegations from five women who accused Franco of inappropriate or sexually exploitative behaviour on set.
Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, who attended Franco’s now-defunct Studio 4 acting school, alleged Franco tried to “create a pipeline of young women who were subjected to his personal and professional sexual exploitation in the name of education”.
In October 2019, meanwhile, two women filed a class-action lawsuit against the actor, accusing him of exploiting film students at his now defunct school and pushing young women into shooting explicit sex scenes on camera.
The suit was eventually settled in July this year, when Franco agreed to pay $2.2m (£1.6m) to the women.
In the podcast interview, Franco also said he had been in recovery from sex addiction since 2016 and had “been doing a lot of work” after the allegations against him “and changing who I was”.
While Franco had admitted that his behaviour was wrong, it’s easy to see why people are sceptical about the actor’s sincerity. After all, when allegations of sexual misconduct first emerged, Franco repeatedly denied all wrongdoing, simply stating that they were “not accurate”.
And while the actor suggested his-near four-year silence over the allegations was because “there were people that were upset with me and I needed to listen,” the fact remains that there still has been no explicit apology.
Per Guardian, the statement reads in part:
“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.”
Nearly four years after allegations against Franco first surfaced, we have a partial explanation for his behaviour. But it remains to be seen whether he will he show genuine contrition for the harm he has inflicted by way of an apology, let alone make good on the words about meaningful action to remedy the mistreatment of women in Hollywood that, for now, are left languishing in a sealed lawsuit.
If you have experienced sexual harassment or assault, it’s not your fault and you are not alone. You can find practical advice about tackling harassment in the workplace by visiting the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website, or calling the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s Equality Advisory and Support Service on 0808 800 0082.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, Victim Support and Rape Crisis provide support and resources. You can also call the RASAC (Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre) national helpline on 0800 0288 022.