At this point, we’re sadly unsurprised when one of Hollywood’s most influential men is accused of some form of sexual misconduct.
The cycle of accusation, apology, and fallout has become all too familiar and, for the most part, fairly easy to predict.
But as award season kicks into high gear, James Franco is defying convention by refusing to step away from the spotlight or even apologize for his alleged past behavior.
On Sunday night, Franco won a Golden Globe for his performance in The Disaster Artist, a film that he also wrote and directed.
His celebration was short-lived, however, due number of tweets posted by actress Ally Sheedy that hinted at sexual misconduct on Franco’s part.
Shortly thereafter, a woman named Violet Paley came forward with allegations that Franco had sexually assaulted her when she was just 17 years old.
In the 48 hours that followed, four other women came forward
“I was talking to him, all of a sudden his penis was out,” Paley said.
“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.”
Paley went on to date Franco, but says when she reflects on the incident, she feels she was coerced into performing oral sex despite feeling uncomfortable about it.
“I would say, ‘No, stop, get out of my car.’ The power dynamic was really off,” she tells the
Paley says she emailed Franco after the Harvey Weinstein sex scandals surfaced to make him aware that she felt she had been mistreated.
She says he didn’t respond right away, but eventually called to try and make amends.
Sarah Tither-Kaplan, an acting student at Franco’s Studio 4 film school, also elaborated on allegations against the 39-year-old today.
Tither-Kaplan claims that whle shooting the 2014 film The Long Home, Franco removed protective plastic guards that covered actresses’ vaginas while he simulated oral sex.
“I got it in my head pretty quickly that, okay, you don’t say ‘no’ to this guy,” Tither-Kaplan said.
Hilary Dusome and Natalie Chmiel, two other students of Franco’s, detailed an incident in which the actor allegedly got angry when no actresses would agree to go topless while filming a scene in a strip club.
“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.”
In the wake of the allegations, Franco has continued to make talk show and other media appearances in hopes of improving his film’s chances of securing several possible Oscar nominations.
On Tuesday night, Franco denied responsibility in an interview with Stephen Colbert.
Wednesday, he appeared on Seth Meyers’ show, where he again declined to admit to any wrongdoing, but stated that he supports the rights of women to come forward with such accusations.
“This is a conversation that obviously needs to be had,” he told Meyers.
“There are people, women and others, who have not been a part of this conversation and I truly believe that they need to be. So I support that.”
Asked if he had contacted Sheedy to ask why she felt compelled to publicly call him out, Franco became visibly uncomfortable.
“I don’t know. I … It was so shocking. I don’t know. I just … I guess I’m just letting it be,” he said.
We’ll have further updates on this developing story as more information becomes available.