PANAMA CITY, Fla. — After a turbulent week at trial, “Girls Gone Wild” founder Joe Francis today won the federal case against him brought by four plaintiffs who claimed he sexually exploited them when they were underage during a "Girls Gone Wild" shoot.
"I am relieved that I have finally been vindicated from these slanderous, disgusting, and now proven false allegations in a federal court by a jury of eight respectful, conservative women,” Francis said.
Francis’s trial had a rough beginning. After failing to retain counsel, he represented himself at trial for four days. He was reprimanded by the judge, held in contempt of court and fined.
Francis then hired a local husband and wife attorney team Gerard Virga and Rachel Seaton-Virga.
"An absolute triumph," Virga said. "We came in halfway through the trial, behind the eight ball and looking like the underdog, but within our system of law, Mr. Francis has been completely vindicated of these false allegations."
The jury found none of the plaintiffs suffered emotional distress at the hands of the defendant. Francis' three corporations had already been found liable in a default judgment prior to the trial, but the jury also excused them from any damages.
"My legal team did an outstanding job and ‘Girls Gone Wild’ will continue to take strident measures to avoid facing these false allegations ever again," Francis said. "On behalf of myself and my corporations I would like to thank the jurors and the people of Panama City for their continued support."