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Francis Says Sex was Consensual

The Miami Herald prints the following retraction: An article in Tuesday’s B section about ”Girls Gone Wild” producer Joe Francis incorrectly stated he was in possession of tranquilizers when arrested in Panama Beach in April 2003. Francis had two hydrocodone and three oxycodone pills, which were legally prescribed as pain killers.

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — A 21-year-old Texas woman has accused the producer of the popular, and controversial, “Girls Gone Wild” video series of raping her in his South Beach hotel room.

Miami Beach police are investigating the allegations against Joseph Francis, 30, who admits being in South Florida to promote his business on the weekend of March 12, when the woman claims the incident took place.

No charges have been filed.

Francis, whose company produces fast-selling videos of young, mostly college-age women flashing their breasts at the camera, kissing and performing other sexually explicit acts, says he had consensual sex with the woman after spending much of the day with her.

“Joe Francis was in Miami on March 12,” Francis’ spokesman, Terry Fahn, said on Monday. “He only had consensual sex. He did not rape anyone. Joe is willing to take a lie detector test to prove it if necessary. He’s curious to see if the person making the allegations would do the same.”

The woman told police she met Francis at the Ritz Carlton Hotel on South Beach. She told police she recognized Francis from TV when she saw him at the hotel’s Di Lido Beach Club bar.

The woman told she had drinks with Francis, including a shot of tequila and two “mixed cocktails” before accepting Francis’ invitation for her and a friend to go up to Francis’ hotel room.

But Miami Beach police said the woman went to Francis’ hotel room following an argument over his videos.

“She didn’t agree with the videos that he was putting together,” said Bobby Hernandez of the Miami Beach Police Department. “She said it degrades women; it’s immoral. That conversation went up to his hotel room with his bodyguard and the friend that was with her.”

She says once in the room, she blacked out. The woman told the Miami Herald she believes her drink may have been drugged, saying, “I didn’t think I’d get so drunk after three drinks.”

The woman said she awoke the next morning in Francis’ bed. She and Francis were naked, but she couldn’t remember what had happened overnight. The woman said she refused Francis’ request for sex, to which she claims he replied, “why, if we already did last night?”

“She believes she was drugged up there and that … something was put in her drink, and that she didn’t want to have sex with him and that he raped her,” Hernandez said.

The woman told the Herald she put her clothes on, awoke her friend, who was asleep on the couch, and drove herself to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where a rape kit was taken and turned over to the Miami Beach Police Department’s sexual battery unit.

No tests were taken to determine whether the woman had been drugged, according to the Herald, because the woman was told by doctors that only police could order such a test, and at the time she was at the hospital, she had not yet decided whether to press charges.

The woman reportedly returned to Texas the following day without reporting the alleged rape to police. She filed a formal complaint by telephone March 17.

Meanwhile, Francis faces trial this summer stemming from his arrest at Panama City Beach last April on charges he was using underage girls in his controversial videos.

He and several of his employees were arrested while filming during spring break after several of the girls’ parents complained.

Bay County sheriff’s deputies charged Francis with racketeering and other crimes based largely on the videotapes, which authorities said showed girls who were under 18.

Charges of drug trafficking were dropped after prosecutors discovered that he had prescriptions for the tranquilizers that were found in his possession during the Panama City arrest.

On Monday it was announced that a new judge would take over that case.

In a reorganization of circuit judges’ responsibilities, Michael Overstreet will be replaced by Dedee Costello in July.

Costello has worked on the case before. She ruled over a forfeiture hearing last year when the Bay County Sheriff’s Office was trying to hold a private jet and Ferrari seized when Francis was arrested.

She also ruled earlier this year that the state no longer could keep the “Girls Gone Wild” search warrants closed to the public.


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