Prosecutors Drop Most of the Charges Against Joe Francis

Michael Hayes
PANAMA CITY, Fla. — Prosecutors in the Girls Gone Wild case have said they will drop all but eight of the dozens of felony charges filed against Mantra Entertainment owner Joe Francis, citing lack of evidence.

Assistant State Attorney Mark Graham, who is handling the case against Francis, said he only had evidence to support second-degree felony charges of using children in sexual performances against Francis, after Judge Dedee Costello tossed the bulk of his evidence in July, citing police misconduct.

The second-degree felonies are punishable by up to 15 years in prison, but Francis’ attorney, Aaron Dyer said he plans to ask the judge to drop the remaining charges Jan 3., when the court will consider his motion to dismiss.

Francis was arrested in April, 2003 and charged with more than 40 criminal offenses. The arrest stemmed from an alleged incident in which Francis was accused of filming two 17-year-old girls in sexual situations in a Panama City Beach motel.

In filing his motion to reduce the charges, Graham addressed Francis’ contention that the girls lied about their ages.

“Knowledge of the victim’s age is not an element of the offense of use of a child in a sexual performance,” he said. “Whether the minor girls lied about their ages is irrelevant to the criminal charge.”

In the meantime, a civil suit in federal court filed by the two women against Francis is still pending.