Girls Gone Wild boss jailed for contempt

Of court, not underage girls

The founder of jubtastic video operation Girls Gone Wild has been jailed for contempt of court, Associated Press reports.

Joe Francis, 34, who coins "an estimated $29m a year from videos of young women exposing their breasts and in other sexually provocative situations" was cuffed and thrown in chokey on a federal arrest warrant after landing in a private jet at Florida's Panama City Bay County International Airport.

The cause of his incarceration was a contempt citation he attracted "during negotiations in a civil lawsuit brought by seven women who were underage when they were filmed by his company on Panama City Beach during spring break in 2003".

Lawyers for the litigants reported that Francis "became enraged during the settlement talks, shouting obscenities at the lawyers and threatening to 'bury them'".

US District Judge Richard Smoak subsequently ordered Francis to settle the case or face jail. Negotiations apparently broke down last Thursday, at which time Smoak issued the contempt of court warrant. Francis ill-advisedly refused to give himself up, and called Smoak "a judge gone wild".

Following his arrest, Francis was hauled before federal Magistrate Larry A Bodiford on Tuesday, who "ordered him held without bail". The eleventh US Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta then refused to allow his release pending an appeal.

A spokesman for Francis said that while "his attorneys continue to work toward a settlement", he would most likely languish in jail until Thursday when he's scheduled to face the wrath of Judge Smoak.

His lawyer Jan Handzlik protested: "If someone behaves badly in a civil case, you punish them with a monetary sanction. It is alien to the justice system to say to a person who is not willing to settle a civil case that they should go to jail. You take the case to trial." ®

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