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Five Women Accuse James Franco of Sexually Exploitative Behavior

James Franco
AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos

The allegations come in a bombshell new Los Angeles Times report. 

Today, the Los Angeles Times released an explosive expose from five women accusing actor James Franco of sexually exploitative behavior. The tide of controversy surrounding him has been building since his Golden Globes appearance where he won an award for his work in The Disaster Artist and his decision to wear a 'Times Up' pin to support the new Hollywood organization dedicated to stopping sexual harassment in the industry.

Related | James Franco Responds After Sexual Harassment Allegations Surface

This week, Franco had taken to the talk show circuit to go on an apology and "denial of wrongdoing" tour after actresses that included Violet Paley, Sarah Tither-Kaplan, and Ally Sheedy accused him of, among other things, exposing himself in front of them, attempting to seduce 17-year-olds, and offering speaking film roles in exchange for nudity and sex scenes.

It's that last bit that has become the focus of the Los Angeles Times investigation. Alongside Sarah Tither-Kaplan, four other women were former acting students who recounted stories of being asked to appear nude in scenes for his "art films" and having Franco become visibly upset if they refused.

Tither-Kaplan described one incident in 2015 when she was asked to play a prostitute by Franco in "The Long Home." She agreed to perform nudity in scenes because she considered the role a big break for her career. However, one day on set, a producer approached her and asked if she would film a "bonus scene" that included an orgy. From there, she stood naked in the background as Franco's character simulated oral sex on a number of women. Tither-Kaplan said that, in each case, Franco "removed a clear plastic guard that covered their vaginas -- and continued to simulate the sex act with no protection."

In another story from some of his former acting students at Playhouse West in North Hollywood, two women said that he put his "female students in uncomfortable situations beyond the normal parameters of acting class." Students Hilary Dusome and Natalie Chmiel were chosen by the actor to appear in a 7 For All Mankind jeans commercial filming at a strip club but, on set, described an "unprofessional" and "hostile" work environment, with Franco coming up to them and asking who wanted to take their shirts off for the commercial.

"I felt like I was selected for something based on my hard work and my merit, and when I realized it was because I have nice [breasts], it was pretty clear that was not the case," Dusome said. "I don't think he started teaching with bad intentions, but he went down a bad path and damaged a lot of people in the process."

Another former student named Katie Ryan, also shared a similar experience. She explained that Franco "would always make everybody think there were possible roles on the table if we were to perform sexual acts or take off our shirts." For years, Ryan received mass emails from Franco asking her to audition for roles playing "a prostitute or a hooker."

A fifth woman, Violet Paley, who had previously spoke out against him on Twitter, said that she met Franco in early 2016 and began a consensual sexual relationship with him that turned into him pressuring her to perform oral sex on him while sitting in a car. "I was talking to him, all of a sudden his penis was out," said Paley. "I got really nervous, and I said, 'Can we do this later?' He was kind of nudging my head down, and I just didn't want him to hate me, so I did it."

Franco's attorney, Michael Plonsker, has disputed all of the women's allegations.

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Chris Thomas