MANHATTAN (CN) - Actor James Franco defamed his former NYU professor on ABC News, Huffington Post and YouTube after he got a "D" for missing 12 of his 14 classes, the professor claims in court.
On Jan. 3, professor Jose Angel Santana sued New York University for racial discrimination, retaliation and breach of contract, in a lawsuit that allegedly mentioned Franco's poor attendance record.
Franco, an Oscar-nominated actor who now teaches at NYU, responded to the allegation in an interview with ABC News.
Santana sued Franco and NYU in New York County Court on Wednesday, claiming defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Franco allegedly told the reporter, "No teacher will ever be fired from NYU for giving a student a D.... He wasn't fired, he was asked not to come back after three years because they didn't think he was a good teacher."
"[Dr. Santana is] not going to get hired at another institution," Franco allegedly added.
Santana says ABC News printed Franco's comments under the April 16 headline, "James Franco Slams 'Ridiculous' Former Acting Professor."
The same day, the Huffington Post printed "James Franco Explains Why He Skipped Jose Angel Santana's Class at New York University," quoting Franco saying that he "didn't feel like [he] needed to waste [his] time with a bad teacher," the complaint states.
And Franco allegedly told freelance journalist Dorri Olds, "[Santana] was a bad teacher," and other remarks, in a YouTube interview one week later.
"Franco's false, outrageous and defamatory statements, asserted as a representative of NYU, irreparably damaged and continues to damage the professional reputation of Dr. Santana locally, nationally and internationally, as the articles containing said statements were published in print and on prominent news websites that are advertised, circulated and accessible throughout the world.
"The integrity, credibly and reputation of Dr. Santana is paramount to his continued success as a teacher and a director. Franco's false, outrageous and defamatory statements articulated above and made as an agent of NYU irreparably damaged the integrity, credibility and reputation of Dr. Santana, and threatened his continued professional success to a degree unascertainable at this time," the complaint states.
Santana seeks punitive damages.
He is represented by Matthew Blit of Levine & Blit in New York.