Girls Gone Wild Exploiting Minors!

The man responsible for the “Girls Gone Wild” videos has pled guilty to exploiting minors and paid a fine amounting to 1.25 percent of his profits.

The California company responsible for the successful “Girls Gone Wild” series of videos has pleaded guilty to violating a federal law designed to prevent the sexual exploitation of children, the Justice Department announced today. Mantra Films Inc. of Santa Monica pleaded guilty to charges that it failed to create and maintain age and identity documents for performers in sexually explicit films that it produced and distributed. The company also failed to label its DVDs and videotapes as required by federal law, the Justice Department said.

[…]

The companies, founded and owned by Joseph Francis, agreed to pay $2.1 million in fines and restitution. Of that, $1.6 million is to be paid by Mantra and MRA, and $500,000 by Francis.

The case is believed to be the first to be filed under a federal law designed to prevent the sexual exploitation of children, the Justice Department said. “This case sends an important message about the Justice Department’s commitment to protecting children from all forms of sexual exploitation,” Assistant Atty. Gen. Alice S. Fisher said in a statement. “Today’s agreements ensure that “Girls Gone Wild” will comply with an important law designed to prevent the sexual exploitation of minors and puts other producers on notice that they must be in compliance as well.”
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The “Girls Gone Wild” series is based on young women exposing themselves during the frenzy of spring break and at other times in hot locales. There is binge drinking, hookups and frantic exhibitionism. By packaging and dispersing the videos, people close to Francis told the Los Angeles Times recently that the company does as much as $40 million a year in sales.

It’s far from clear how drunken teenage girls flashing their boobs at cameras for money while on a weeklong Florida orgy can be exploited by sloppy record keeping, but I’m sure the Justice Department wouldn’t be wasting time that could be spent protecting us from terrorists and hardened criminals if this weren’t really, really serious.

Gone Hollywood

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Was that 1.25% of his profits or his gross. Talk about your petty annoyances. I would love to see a Pareto of his costs to compare this to. I suspect it wouldn’t make the top 10 unless you broke down the budget into pretty fine pieces.

    To put it another way. If I told you that I had a business venture that could make $140M and our down side was that we might have to fork $2M to the government, would you at all be deterred?

    Given the product, cameras going around to drunk teenagers during spring break, I suspect that they would lose a lot more if they tried to comply. How may wouldn’t flash if they had to provide proof of age first or wouldn’t cooperate providing proof of age afterward as the realization of what they are doing strikes home? I think at least half of the film would be lost, probably more. So if I told you the choices were don’t comply and make $140M with a $2M ‘fee’ to the government or comply ad make $70M, which would your choice be.

    I suspect that this was settled because it would be cheaper to settle than fight it all the way to the supreme court. If the government was serious about this, they would have taken 100% of profits and some of the revenue, making it a financial black hole. This just makes it a cost of doing business.

  2. Anderson says:

    Like, who *else* are you gonna exploit?

  3. Well, this might be a poor use of law enforcement resources, but I have no sympathy for this guy. He is a scum bag. He doesn’t just find the girls on the streets, but goes looking for them in bars and helps get them drunk. There was a big write-up in the LA Times a couple of weeks ago.

  4. James Joyner says:

    YAJ: His gross. I’m being mostly facetious there although, yes, the fine is niggling compared to the profits gained from his enterprise.

    Robert: No sympathy from me, either, for the scumbag or his “victims.” My inclination is that if a girl is willing to let a stranger buy her drinks and then do various acts of debauchery for a videocamera, she’s likely no innocent. Filming and exploiting their youthful indiscretion, though, isn’t exactly admirable.

  5. wavemaker says:

    This dirt bag will crash and burn at the hands of his own devices soon enough. Not soon enough for me, but it’s bound to occur.

  6. bains says:

    Agreed, Dr Joyner, we should just ignore those lawbreakers if we dont think the law in question is… serious, you know.

    /snark, and amazed that James and not Steve wrote this!

  7. Stormy70 says:

    Who cares if they are minors, fair game if they are drunk. I don’t think you mean it this way, but it sounds a little crass.
    I read the LA Times article, and this guy is a piece of work. He assaulted the female reporter and practically date raped a girl on his bus. He makes bags of scum look classy in comparison.

  8. Anderson says:

    Agreed, Dr Joyner, we should just ignore those lawbreakers if we dont think the law in question is… serious, you know.

    Where did JJ say any such thing? He has no sympathy for *either*. Why should he? These kids, “minors” tho they be, are old enough to know better. (Didn’t that used to be a “conservative” sort of thinking?)

    If this is how they learn that drinking themselves into a suggestive stupor is a poor idea, hey, it could be worse.

  9. Fersboo says:

    James wrote:

    …but I’m sure the Justice Department wouldn’t be wasting time that could be spent protecting us from terrorists and hardened criminals if this weren’t really, really serious.

    bains wrote:

    Agreed, Dr Joyner, we should just ignore those lawbreakers if we dont think the law in question is… serious, you know.

    /snark, and amazed that James and not Steve wrote this!

    Anderson wrote:

    Where did JJ say any such thing?

    Easy as 1.2.3.

  10. LJD says:

    Although edited for television, I would say MTV’s Spring Break is equally complicit in making young people do stupid things.

  11. Fersboo says:

    ….complicit in making young people do stupid things.

    Isn’t that the same as saying that Satan made evil people do evil things? What ever happened to ‘free will’?

  12. We have to look at the root causes that make these women exploit themselves, not blame the women or the man who encouraged them. Its obvious that the root cause of this is the universities insisting on brainwashing these women with white male literature like Shakespeare. The answer is not criminal prosecutions that mean something, but replacing all university classes with women studies programs.

  13. Manolo Cabeza de Huevo says:

    My inclination is that if a girl is willing to let a stranger buy her drinks and then do various acts of debauchery for a videocamera, she’s likely no innocent. Filming and exploiting their youthful indiscretion, though, isn’t exactly admirable.

    That’s a great summation. No one would give this guy any awards for his humanitarianism, but it’s hard to get too upset about girls who willingly choose to be “exploited” in this manner. Ferchrissakes, the girls who do this are probably flattered that they’re “hot enough” to be on GGW.

    Unless you’re one of those who believes in the feminist cant so well parodied by YAJ, we’re talking about free will in action here, and probably making it more expensive for the producers to do business is about as far as we can reasonbly go without putting draconian restrictions on speech.

  14. LJD says:

    Maybe I’m not too good at the snark…

    I’m all for cute young things (over 18) getting wasted and flinging their goodies around… (as long as it’s not MY daughter)

    My point was that this affront to the purity of young women is really not all that different than the garbage available on t.v. 24-7.

  15. Ray says:

    A question unasked: Why weren’t the minors carded before be supplied with alcohol? If these minors were solicited and and served alcohol at a drinking establishment, why aren’t the bars that served them being investigated as well? I couldn’t find the answer in the article.