“Extra’s” Mario Lopez went behind closed doors at the Washoe County Jail to sit down with his friend and “Girls Gone Wild” creator Joe Francis.
Francis is serving time in Reno on tax evasion charges, but his legal troubles started in Florida during a civil suit when seven women claimed they were minors when they appeared in a “Girls Gone Wild” video.
“This has been seven months. I’ve been here seven months because Florida won’t grant me bail,” he says. When asked if he filmed the women without their consent, he exclaims, “No!”
As for the Florida judge who sent him behind bars, Francis blasts, “He put me in jail for not settling a civil lawsuit, civil not criminal.” He adds, “Trust me, I’m going after the people that have done this to me. I’m not going to sit back. This is criminal what they’ve done to me.”
Francis exclaims, “I am enduring one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in this country… I’m being persecuted by people in Florida, corrupt city officials, who’re pissed off at me for asserting my First Amendment right against them.”
Francis claims he is being targeted much like Hugh Hefner and Larry Flynt were decades ago. “I’m obviously the target because I’m the figurehead of the company as Hugh Hefner was the target when he was arrested, as Larry Flynt was the target when he was arrested. I’m going through the exact same things these guys went through. I’m being persecuted for my stance on the First Amendment,” he insists.
Now Francis is confined to a small, 12x7 jail cell. “I can’t look out the window. The only thing I can see is the Seven Eleven across the street, that’s too depressing for me. I try not the think about anything on the outside,” he says. “I’m doing a jailhouse interview with one of my friends, it’s hard. It’s going to be hard when you leave.”
As for when his nightmare will end, Francis says, “I really think it’s going to be over very soon!”
For more with Joe Francis tune into “Extra” tonight, Monday, November 12.