Archive for Friday, April 11, 2003

Girls Gone Wild’ creator faces charges

April 11, 2003


— The man who makes "Girls Gone Wild" videos is facing sex- and drug-related charges after parents complained to police that he told minors to lie about their age on camera.

Joe Francis, chief executive of Mantra Entertainment, was arrested last week after searches of five locations and a private jet turned up videotapes that corroborated the stories of four 17-year-old girls and a 16-year-old, police said. In the "Girls Gone Wild" videos, young women bare their breasts while partying.

Francis, 30, was charged with drug trafficking and racketeering related to prostitution. He could face up to 35 years in prison if convicted on both counts. Three of his employees also were charged: one with racketeering and the others with drug possession.

Francis has denied the charges but has not yet entered a plea.

A judge Wednesday denied a request by The News Herald of Panama City and a private investigator to see the search warrants and sworn statements that led to Francis' arrest. The judge ruled that the documents must remain sealed because they were part of an ongoing investigation.

The girls came across a "Girls Gone Wild" van March 31 and were asked to go to a motel room to act out nude scenes in front of a video crew, police said. Two did and were paid $100 for their performances.

"One of the 17-year-old girls came clean to her mother, and they called us," said Bay County sheriff's spokeswoman Ruth Sasser.

Police said they found video to confirm that Francis told the 16-year-old to say she was 18 when he filmed her baring her breasts.

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