'Girls Gone Wild' founder alleges torture while in Oklahoma jail
BY Associated Press
Friday, November 23, 2007
CHICKASHA -- The founder of the "Girls Gone Wild" franchise has accused Grady County jailers of going wild and torturing him during a brief stay at the facility.
Joe Francis is now jailed in Reno, Nev., where he awaits trial next year on a federal tax evasion charge.
Among other things, guards threatened to strap Francis naked to a chair for 48 hours while he was in custody there from May 17 to June 4, his attorneys alleged in a legal filing that's part of an effort to get him released on bail in a Florida case.
The attorneys declined a request from The Oklahoman to discuss their allegations.
Francis, 34, was held in Oklahoma for two weeks while being moved from a Florida jail to the Nevada facility. Grady County is paid to detain inmates for the Oklahoma City Federal Transfer Center when that facility is at capacity.
Grady County officials have denied the accusations.
"Mr. Francis was treated like every inmate that comes through the Grady County Law Enforcement Center," said Shane Wyatt, the Grady County jail administrator.
Francis has made millions of dollars with the "Girls Gone Wild" videos and DVDs, which feature predominantly college-age women exposing themselves, often during spring break. Sometimes, the women kiss or engage in sexual activities at the urging of cameramen.
His attorneys allege jailers in Oklahoma tortured Francis, including denying him needed medication and social visits.
The day he was supposed to be transported to Reno, Grady County guards made him dispose of his "commissary," or food, clothing, hygiene products, bedding and blankets, for the move.
"While waiting in line to be transported to a bus, one of the guards instructed him to step out of the line. He was told that he would be 'going nowhere' and ordered back to his cell. Francis had already given his entire commissary away and had no bedding or blankets. The commissary could not be replaced for days," his attorneys wrote in one legal filing.
"Mr. Francis again and again begged for a blanket," they wrote. "It was then that guards threatened to strip him and strap him naked to a chair, with only a hole for defecation, for 48 hours. ..."
Sheriff Kieran McMullen laughed at the accusations.
McMullen said there are special chairs available "in case somebody's trying to hurt themselves or something but I'm not familiar with him ever being threatened with that."
The jail administrator said Francis was never placed in a restraint chair.
Jailers did delay Francis' move to Reno after finding out his family had somehow been notified when he was to be moved, McMullen said.
"That's a security risk," McMullen said. "We don't tell anybody when a prisoner is going to be moved because if somebody knows, who knows what they could set up? ... The transport deputies came to me and told me about it and we pulled him."
The sheriff said federal inmates are not allowed to take commissary with them when they leave. The jail administrator said Francis was never denied a blanket although "we had to take one from him because he was given more than what is allowed."
Francis faces criminal charges of use of minors in a sexual performance and conspiracy to use minors in a sexual performance after two girls, then 17, were videotaped in 2003 in sex acts in a motel shower.
He denies wrongdoing, saying he cannot be held responsible because the girls lied to a cameraman about their age and because he wasn't in the bathroom at the time.
Francis had been free on bail in the 2003 criminal case, but a federal judge jailed him this year for contempt after he cursed during settlement talks involving a civil lawsuit.
His bail in the 2003 case was revoked because he allegedly took contraband with him into jail in Florida.
He remains in Nevada because he was indicted on a federal tax evasion charge in April, and would rather stay there than post bail and be sent back to custody in Florida.