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Ashley Judd Praises James Franco’s ‘Terrific’ Response to Sexual Misconduct Accusations

‘Disaster Artist’ actor-director is accused by 5 women, including actress Ally Sheedy and four former acting students

James Franco’s response to sexual harassment allegations has drawn a positive review from one of #MeToo’s most outspoken leaders, Ashley Judd.

Judd, who was one of the first celebrities to speak on the record about the abuse she endured by Harvey Weinstein in October, told BBC’s HARDtalk she was pleased with what Franco said about the recent sexual misconduct accusations leveled against him.

“I think that what James said is terrific,” Judd said. “And I think that we’ve all behaved, at a certain level, unconsciously, and done things that were insensitive, inappropriate, without necessarily understanding that they were. I mean, we’ve all operated with a certain amount of tone deafness, and I like the culpability, and we have to have restorative justice.”

She added, “This is about men and women being all together and having a more equitable and just workplace, home life, social spaces. I mean, we know that when women are empowered in the workplace and are in decision-making positions that workplaces have better financial outcomes and there’s less harassment when there is more diversity. And it takes that kind of individual accountability to collectively make the change on a large scale.”

The sexual misconduct accusations against Franco began to swirl on Tuesday, when the New York Times canceled a Wednesday panel event with James and Dave Franco to discuss their new film “The Disaster Artist.” The paper later said in a statement that it canceled the event due to “the controversy surrounding recent allegations.”

After Franco won Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy for the film at the 75th Golden Globes Sunday, several women accused him of sexual misconduct on Twitter, including a cryptic tweet by Ally Sheedy, who appeared in a 2014 Off Broadway production that Franco directed.

Then on Monday, the Los Angeles Times reported that five women accused the actor of abusing his power as an acting teacher and mentor in a sexually exploitative manner. Franco’s attorney, Michael Plonsker, denied each of the women’s allegations.

During an appearance on “Late Night with Seth Meyers” on Wednesday, the actor addressed the allegations:

“There are people that need to be heard,” Franco told Meyers. “I have my own side of this story, but I believe in these people that have been underrepresented getting their stories out enough that I will hold back things that I could say, just because I believe in it that much. So if I have to take a knock because I’m not going to try and actively refute things, then I will, because I believe in it that much.”