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3/15/2011

14:49 PM PST

Joe Francis Owes $3 Million in a Default Judgment To Amber Arpaio; Read Why

--on the web

from www.forbes.com - Three years after the Client Number Nine scandal, those involved have moved on to bigger and better things.

Well, depending on how you define “bigger and better”: Eliot Spitzer landed a gig at CNN, while his former call girl, Ashley Alexandra Dupré, now pens a sex column for the New York Post and was featured on the cover of Playboy. But some people who weren’t directly involved have had a harder time moving on, namely a woman named Amber Arpaio.

You may remember her name and perhaps even her driver’s license photo from a YouTube video released by ‘Girls Gone Wild’.

At the height of the Client Number Nine media frenzy, Joe Francis offered Dupré one million dollars to do a ‘Girls Gone Wild’ magazine shoot and promotional tour. He withdrew that offer when he serendipitously realized he already had footage of Dupré from earlier times in his archive. Dupré then sued him, saying she was only 17 at the time that footage was shot.

Francis responded by releasing a video of Dupré mugging for the camera in a towel, claiming to be 18, and saying her name was Amber Arpaio. The camera then lingers on Arpaio’s New Jersey license for about 30 seconds. The video was widely circulated on the Web, and led Dupré to drop her lawsuit — Francis and ‘Girls Gone Wild’ were triumphant!

Well, until Amber Arpaio filed her own lawsuit against Dupré and ‘Girls Gone Wild’ for defamation and invasion of privacy…

The suit was resolved this month, reports Evan Brown at Internet Cases. Arpaio had included Dupré in her original complaint accusing her of ID theft, but she never managed to properly serve Dupré so the New York Post’s sex columnist has been left out of the judgment for now. But Joe Francis of Mantra Films was served (though he never responded). He’s now been hit with a $3 million default judgment.

Arpaio claims that the raunchy search results that now turn up when you Google her name have jeopardized her employment prospects, and that she fears what her future, not-yet-conceived-or-born children will think when they are “exposed to the insulting material.”

I guess Arpaio is not planning to change her last name if/when she gets married.

When Arpaio does a vanity search on Google, she’s not feeling lucky, she’s feeling traumatized. Her psychologist submitted a report to the court that she “now carries deep psychological scars, and exhibits a number of classic symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Attorney Miles Benjamin Neustein who, according to the court is “qualified as an expert on the dissemination of information through the Internet” testified on Arpaio’s behalf, explaining that a Google search of her name produces over 130,000 ‘hits,’ most of which feature pornographic material.

“[Neustein] concluded that ‘the public light [that the posting of the Internet video] has cast upon the Plaintiff is not only international in scope, but also is one wholly and irrevocably tied [to] the rawest of pornography and all things otherwise appealing to the prurient interest,’” writes Judge Joel Pisano in his opinion. “Indeed, ‘given the unique nature of the Internet,’ Mr. Neustein wrote, ‘this branding is for life,’ and highly likely to adversely impact her employment prospects and personal relationships.”

I suppose that depends on what kind of employment she pursues. Regardless, Pisano granted her request for damages in the amount of $3 million dollars. ‘Girls Gone Wild’ will surely appeal, hopefully without releasing anything defamatory on YouTube to help its case.

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