Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Judge gone wild

'Girls Gone Wild' Founder Accuses Judge

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

PANAMA CITY, Fla. - "Girls Gone Wild" founder Joe Francis accused a federal judge Tuesday of targeting him for retribution, saying he is behind a new lawsuit that accuses Francis of filming underage girls in sexually provocative acts.

Francis said U.S. District Judge Richard Smoak and Smoak's former law partner, Ross McCloy,are targeting him because his company met with a consulting firm about taking steps to impeach Smoak and have him removed from office.

McCloy is representing the four women who sued Francis last week. They allege they were 17,16, 15 and 13 when his company solicited them to participate in sexually provocative videos in 2003 and earlier. They want unspecified monetary damages.

Smoak presided over an earlier, similar lawsuit against Francis that McCloy also filed.

Francis said the judge should have removed himself because of his relationship with McCloy. The lawsuit was later settled after Smoak jailed Francis for making threats during a deposition.

"We asked three times for the judge to recuse himself in front of his ex-law partner and he refused," Francis told The Associated Press. "This is America and we are not going to let that happen again. We are not going to let them put me in jail for a civil suit."

He called the latest lawsuit "Shakedown Part 2."

McCloy had no comment about Francis' allegations. Smoak did not immediately return a phone call placed to his office. "Girls Gone Wild" is a series of videos showing young women exposing themselves, often at events like Mardi Gras and spring break. Francis has sold millions.

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