James Franco to Pay $2.2 Million to Settle Sexual Misconduct Lawsuit from 2019

James Franco — who was sued in 2019 by two former acting students who claimed the actor sexually exploited them — reached the settlement deal in February

James Franco
James Franco. Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty

The details of James Franco's sexual-misconduct lawsuit settlement have come to light.

Four months ago, the actor reached a deal with Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal — two of Franco's former acting students who filed a sexual misconduct lawsuit against him in 2019. Records obtained by PEOPLE from the Los Angeles Superior Court, filed on Thursday, state that Franco has agreed to pay $2,235,000 in the settlement.

As part of the settlement, both parties agreed to the following joint statement: "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," the statement continues.

Of the $2,235,000 in the settlement, $894,000 would go to the named plaintiffs, and $1,341,000 would go into a common fund for the rest of the members of the class action. Tither-Kaplan would receive $670,500, and Gaal would receive $223,500 — both minus attorney fees.

According to the Associated Press, a deal was reached in February among Franco, Tither-Kaplan and Gaal, who sued the Freaks and Geeks alum and claimed they were sexually exploited by his now-defunct acting school.

The Oscar nominee opened his acting school, Playhouse West Studio 4, in 2014 before it closed in 2017.

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James Franco
James Franco. Brian Ach/Getty

In the February status report, the two sides told a judge that a settlement had been reached, according to the AP. As part of the deal, Tither-Kaplan and Gaal had agreed to drop their individual claims against Franco, 43.

"The Plaintiffs can confirm that the Parties filed a Joint Status Report notifying the Court of a tentative settlement. The settlement will be further memorialized in a Joint Stipulation of Settlement to be filed with the Court at a later date," read a statement released to Entertainment Weekly at the time on behalf of Valli Kane & Vagnini, LLP. (Attorneys for Franco did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment at the time.)

In the 2019 lawsuit, Tither-Kaplan and Gaal claimed Franco and his business partners "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," according to court documents previously obtained by PEOPLE.

The plaintiffs also alleged that the circumstances "led to an environment of harassment and sexual exploitation both in and out of the class."

At the time of the filing, an attorney for Franco released a statement obtained by PEOPLE, denying the allegations on behalf of the actor.

RELATED VIDEO: James Franco Sued by 2 Women Who Claim He Sexually Exploited Them Through His Acting School

Tither-Kaplan initially accused Franco of sexually exploiting her in January 2018 alongside four other women in an article published by The Los Angeles Times. She claimed to the newspaper that Franco removed safety guards while filming an oral sex scene on the set of the 2015 film The Long Home. (Those allegations also found their way into the 2019 lawsuit.)

That same month, Tither-Kaplan told Good Morning America that Franco "abused his power by exploiting the non-celebrity women that he worked with under the guise of giving them opportunities."

At the time, an attorney for Franco denied each of the allegations and cited the actor's 2018 comments on The Late Show as his formal denial.

"The things that 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," Franco told Stephen Colbert.

He added, "So I don't want to, you know, shut them down in any way."

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