Two women who accused James Franco of sexual misconduct have spoken out following a recent interview in which he addressed the allegations for the first time.
In 2018, the Los Angeles Times reported that five women who attended the 43-year-old's Studio 4 acting school accused him of sexually inappropriate behaviour. The following year, two former students - Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal - filed a sexual misconduct lawsuit, which was settled for $2.2 million (£1.6 million).
Franco recently sat down for an interview with The Jess Cagle Podcast and talked about the allegations for the first time. The Disaster Artist star insisted the sex he engaged in was "consensual" but he was "completely blind to power dynamics" as he was not "clearheaded" at the time.
On Thursday, lawyers for Tither-Kaplan and Gaal released a statement via People that hit back at the actor's version of events and cast doubt on his sincerity.
"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. 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 statement began.
"This wasn't a misunderstanding over a course name, it wasn't the result of him being overworked - it was, and is, despicable conduct. Nobody should confuse this interview with Franco taking accountability for his actions or expressing remorse over what happened. 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."
Studio 4 closed in 2017.