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After Years Of Exploiting Women, Girls Gone Wild Goes Bust

By Annie-Rose Strasser  

"After Years Of Exploiting Women, Girls Gone Wild Goes Bust"

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The news broke today that the soft-core porn company Girls Gone Wild will file for bankruptcy. The company’s decision was largely related to a debt owed to the casino Wynn Las Vegas thanks to the actions of founder Joseph Francis.

But that’s not the only legal trouble that Francis and the company have found themselves in recently. GGW has faced a whole slew of lawsuits for exploiting women, which have substantially contributed to Francis’s financial troubles.

In their bankruptcy filings, GGW cites another debt owed to Tamara Favazza, a woman who sued the company for putting her on film against her will. She won the suit, along with $5.8 million from Francis:

Favazza sued Francis in 2008, claiming someone exposed her breasts while filming in a bar in St. Louis for the “Girls Gone Wild Sorority Orgy” DVD series, according to court documents.

Favazza, a St. Louis resident, won a $5.8 million judgment and then sued Francis, GGW Brands and Mantra Films last year in federal court in Missouri to collect.

GGW Brands called Favazza’s claim a “trade debt” in its Chapter 11 petition. In bankruptcy, trade debts are owed to suppliers, vendors and other service providers.

Favazza is far from alone in demanding remuneration from GGW.

Take, for example, Lindsey Boyd. Now 26, Boyd originally sued the company in 2004 for running video of her as a 14-year-old flashing a cameraman for beads. The case was ultimately decided in November of 2012 — and Boyd lost not because her claim was inaccurate, but because her home state of Georgia had no law in place that protected her photo from being used for commercial use against her consent. In the year 2008, a total of four women sued Francis collectively with similar claims of emotional damages from being filmed underage. Because the company had waivers for them, their cases were also tossed.

Francis has openly admitted to the exploitation that seemed integral to his company’s business model. In 2006, he plead guilty to exploiting minors and paid a fine of $500,000 after admitting that he didn’t keep track of the identities and ages of the women (or girls) captured in his videos. He similarly plead “no contest,” and served a year in jail, for charges of child abuse and prostitution. He was required to post a $1.5 million bond, which likely added to his financial woes.

Ultimately, GGW may blame Wynn, a man, for bringing its empire to the ground. But it’s Favazza’s role in GGW’s bankruptcy that is the most important symbolic victory. Her case speaks for countless women who will be glad to see the company go down, even if the unhinged man at its helm insists it can continue to operate.

Update

Correction: This post has been modified to reflect Francis’s relationship to GGW. He is the founder. A legal representative for GGW also disputes the claim that Francis put the company into bankruptcy, saying:

The filed bankruptcy papers clearly show that Mr. Chris Dale, Manager of GGW Brands, LLC, executed the paperwork and was therefore the one who authorized the filings. GGW Brands is the parent of the other GGW entities and therefore Mr. Dale signed the paperwork for all of the entities.[...]

One of the things that will be accomplished through the bankruptcy process is the weeding out of such meritless claims so that the GGW entities may continue with their business as usual and continue to timely pay their deserving employees and trade creditors.

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