Belfast Telegraph

Friday 28 November 2014

Judge jails Girls Gone Wild creator Joe Francis

Girls Gone Wild creator Joe Francis has been jailed for 270 days and given three years' probation for attacking a woman at his Los Angeles mansion.

Los Angeles Superior Court judge Nancy Newman also ordered 40-year-old Francis to complete an anger management course and attend 52 psychological counselling sessions, said deputy city attorney Mitchell Fox.

A jury convicted Francis in May of five misdemeanour charges - three counts of false imprisonment, one count of assault by means likely to cause great bodily injury, and one count of dissuading a witness from reporting a crime.

Francis' lawyer Steve Levine said key details of the case were proved to be false in court, and he is appealing against the decision.

"Joe has always maintained his innocence," Mr Levine said. He added that the judge "still came to a very fair and measured decision".

Girls Gone Wild videos and DVDs, featuring young women exposing themselves on camera, have made a fortune for Francis. But he has been targeted with dozens of lawsuits from women who said they were upset at being filmed.

According to Mr Fox, Francis met three women on January 29 2011, at a college graduation party at the Supper Club in Hollywood. He grabbed the arm of one of the girls and took her to his limo and the two others followed, believing they would be taken to their car. Instead, they ended up in a gated area of Francis' Bel Air home.

Francis appeared to be interested in one of the women and tried to lead her away, but her friend pulled back, Mr Fox said.

Francis then "jumped on the friend, took her to the ground, choked her, slammed her head against the ground, dragged her across the ground, and when she got back up, did it several more times".

He then apparently told the women they were trespassing and had to leave. The women said they were going to call the police and Francis yelled to "go ahead and call the police", the prosecutor said.

Francis told the girls he "owns the police" and that officers would not arrest him, Mr Fox added.

Judge Newman denied Francis' request for a new trial, but sentenced him to less than the four years in county jail urged by prosecutors.

Mr Levine said Francis would be released from custody soon after posting a 250,000-dollar bond. He will remain free pending the outcome of the appeal.

"This is one of those cases where being a celebrity did not help him at all," Mr Levine said.

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