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Women accuse James Franco of exploitative behavior

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James Franco arrives at the 75th Annual Golden Globes at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Jan. 7. Five women have accused Franco, 39, of behavior they found to be inappropriate or sexually exploitative. (Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
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The abuse of power comes as no surprise, particularly in the shape of a celebrated male actor wearing a #TimesUp pin in solidarity with women speaking out against the industry’s rampant sexual assault.

As James Franco stood on the stage of the 75th annual Golden Globes last Sunday to accept an award for his role in “The Disaster Artist,” actress Violet Paley took to Twitter.

“Cute #TIMESUP pin James Franco,” Paley wrote. “Remember the time you pushed my head down in a car towards your exposed penis & that other time you told my friend to come to your hotel when she was 17? After you had already been caught doing that to a different 17 year old?”

Paley had a romantic relationship with Franco in 2016, but similar to the four  other women interviewed an LA Times piece about Franco, she expressed discomfort an unbalanced power dynamic.

Sarah Tither-Kaplan, also interviewed in the piece, was a student of Franco’s who went to appear in several of his productions. Most of the women included in the piece were students of his, and they each shared accounts of Franco’s sexually inappropriate or exploitative behavior on Franco’s part, often coerced under the guise of career advancement.

Three years ago, Tither-Kaplan said she was filming a nude orgy scene with Franco and several women and he removed protective plastic guards covering other actresses’ vaginas while simulating oral sex on them. After, the actresses were asked to be topless in an unscripted scene. One said no, and she was sent home the next day.

Franco’s attorney, Michael Plonsker, disputed all of the women’s allegations. On Tuesday, Franco also denied the allegations on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.”

THE LIST GROWS
The NYPD is investigating two new rape allegations against rap mogul Russell Simmons. He has repeatedly denied the accusations, claiming he’s dedicating himself to spiritual learning and healing.

Actor Johnathon Schaech has accused director Franco Zeffirelli, best known for “La Traviata” and “Romeo and Juliet,” of harassment and sexual abuse on the set of the 1992 film “Sparrow.” Zeffirelli’s son, Pippo, denied the accusations.

Six more women have accused conductor Charles Dutoit of sexual assault, including one musician who says he raped her in 1988. The conductor has denied the allegations. Still, eight orchestras have stopped working with Dutoit and two have launched investigations.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY
Singer Zayn is 25 … Actress Naya Rivera is 31 … Rapper Raekwon of Wu Tang Clan is 48 …  News correspondent Christiane Amanpour is 60 … Radio personality Howard Stern is 64.

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