James Franco has been accused of sexual misconduct by at least five women, including some of his former students. However, the schools Franco taught at claim no complaints were lodged against him.
Franco has a long career in academia, including multiple degrees from graduate programs. He taught at NYU from 2011 to 2012, at USC from 2013 to 2015, and at UCLA from 2012 to 2017. Reporters from TMZ contacted each of the schools, and both NYU and USC said that no complaints, formal or informal, had been lodged against Franco in that time.
UCLA declined to release an official statement on the issue, though a source in administration said that there were no reports filed against the Disaster Artist star.
Of course, that doesn’t go very far in proving Franco’s accusers right or wrong. There is an overwhelming amount of data suggesting that women typically don’t report sexual harassment or misconduct, especially against those in power over them, such as college professors. There have also been meen studies proving that accusers rarely lie about sexual abuse.
Franco has tentatively maintained his innocence, appearing humbled and downcast on both The Late Show With Stephen Colbert and Late Night With Seth Meyers. He told Meyers that he supports the Time’s Up campaign and similar movements so much that he’s willing to “take a knock” to make sure the voices of victims are heard.
Franco’s students have described his behavior on set as intense and hot-tempered, but they mince no words in calling it an abuse of power.
“I got it in my head pretty quickly that, OK, you don’t say ‘no’ to this guy,” said Sarah Tither-Kaplan, Franco’s former mentee and one of his accusers. “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,” she said.
Other women have come forward to describe inappropriate interactions with Franco on Twitter, including Ally Sheedy and filmmaker Violet Paley. Rose McGowan condemned Franco, while Ashley Judd noted that his response to the accusations was at least a productive start to the conversation.