‘Girls Gone Wild Exposed’: Shocking rape and abuse claims in new Joe Francis doc

0
59


The early 2000s were a crazy time for self-crowned “party girl” Jannel. 

With a badass under-lip piercing, rock star-reminiscent locks and a petite frame, the vivacious 18-year-old was a regular on the Chicago nightlife scene.

But the thumping club anthems hit a shrieking record scratch at around 2:30 a.m. on Aug. 25, 2006. 

That’s when Jannel claims that “Girls Gone Wild” creator Joe Francis brutally raped her in the back of his logo-wrapped tour bus, which was parked near Chicago’s Club Envy, where they’d partied earlier in the evening.

She claims that Francis cherrypicked her from the crowded dance floor, fed her alcohol “like it was water,” incessantly complimented her looks and then invited her onto the bus — where she assumed the worst she’d be asked to do was flash her breasts at a “Girls Gone Wild” camera.

Andrea Lowell, Athena Lundberg, Kathryn Smith, Anika Knudson and Joe Francis
Launched in 1997, “Girls Gone Wild” raked in $20 million within its first two years of operation.
WireImage for Girls Gone Wild

Instead, she said, she was forced to “touch” herself with objects that he’d stored on the sleeper bus in a bedside dresser drawer. Then, Francis allegedly pounced on her.

“He kept trying to kiss me and saying, ‘It’s going to be OK, it’s going to be OK.’ And I was like, ‘Get off of me, get off of me,’ ” Jannel says in “Girls Gone Wild Exposed,” the first episode of TNT’s new true-crime anthology series “Rich & Shameless,” airing Saturday. “He basically forced himself on me, and it hurt because I wasn’t ‘turned on,’ so it really hurt . . . He took hold of me. I was this 100-pound little girl. I didn’t give my consent that night, and he totally raped me. And then he got off of me like I was garbage.”

Directed by Katinka Blackford Newman, known for blowing the whistle on big pharma with the nonfiction book “The Pill That Steals Lives,” the TNT show draws back the curtain on the “Girls Gone Wild” machine. What was sold as sexy, sunny Y2K-era spring break hedonism — and even sex-positive female empowerment — was actually, according to Blackford Newman, darkly exploitative and sinister. And despite high-profile fans and friends, Francis was a cruel, abusive ringmaster.

Guests during Girls Gone Wild and Coochie Power Mardi Gras 2004
Guests during Girls Gone Wild and Coochie Power Mardi Gras in 2004.
WireImage for Us Weekly Magazine

“Behind the fun, the wet T-shirt competitions and the faux-feministic liberation centered around flashing your breasts in front of a camera, lives were being ruined,” Blackford Newman told The Post. 

“Young women like Jannel thought Joe Francis was OK because he hung out with celebrities,” the Emmy-nominated filmmaker continued. “Nobody could believe that somebody who rubs shoulders with the Kardashians, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston could be a violent abuser and a criminal.”

(Joe Francis did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for a comment.)

Launched in 1997, “Girls Gone Wild” raked in $20 million within its first two years of operation. By 2004, the never-ending, boob-centric party was amassing a cool $100 million annually, and numerous celebs were part of the party.

The documentary features footage of Pitt talking about being a fan of the videos and noting that Aniston gave him some as a gift.

Kourtney Kardashian, Joe Francis, Khloe Kardashian, Kim Kardashian arrive at the Girls Gone Wild Magazine Launch party in April 2008 in West Hollywood, California.
Kourtney Kardashian, Joe Francis, Khloe Kardashian and Kim Kardashian arrive at the Girls Gone Wild Magazine Launch party in April 2008 in West Hollywood, California.
Getty Images

But the wild good times the “GGW” videos portrayed were actually terrible for many of the women on the other side of the camera.

Blackford Newman recounted footage from the documentary in which a Francis employee tricks barely legal, inebriated women into shooting same-sex pornography. An off-camera man can be heard coaching three woman to perform oral sex on one another and make sexy sounds while he films.

One of the women confusedly asks, “My parents aren’t going to see this, are they?”

“It literally turns my stomach,” Blackford Newman, a 50-something mother of teens, said of such footage. “That could have easily been my kids. Some famous guys who’s friends with the Kardashians comes along with a camera, asks them to sign something, they’re drunk and don’t know what they’re doing, and bam [their sex tape] is out there for the next 20 years.”

Women dancing
“Girls Gone Wild” filming in Boston in an undated photo.
MediaNews Group via Getty Images

Much of the 90-minute documentary is devoted to Francis’ sordid story and his twisted journey from troubled adolescent to smut-peddling superstar to accused child pornographer, sexual assault abuser and domestic violence offender. 

A social outcast who had to be shipped off to boarding school for bad behavior in the late 1980s, he was heralded as the Hugh Hefner of the new millennium at the height of “Girls Gone Wild.” Then, in 2003, he was arrested on child pornography charges for allegedly filming two underaged girls having sex in a shower. He was also accused of forcing a pair of 17-year-olds to massage his penis. That same year, a woman named Michelle Padilla filed a federal lawsuit against Francis for nonconsensually plastering her topless photo on “Girls Gone Wild” DVD covers and paraphernalia.

In 2007, he was arrested on contempt of court charges for telling the opposing counsel in his child porn case to “suck my d – – k.” That same year, he reportedly advised good pal Kim Kardashian on how to make the most of her leaked sex tape.

“Young women like Jannel thought Joe Francis was OK because he hung out with celebrities,” director Katinka Blackford Newman told The Post.
“Young women like Jannel thought Joe Francis was OK because he hung out with celebrities,” director Katinka Blackford Newman told The Post.
Courtesy TNT

Francis served 11 months in a Reno, Nevada, jail for $20 million tax evasion in 2009, while celeb fans like Kardashian stood by him, sporting a “Free Joe” T-shirt in public. While in jail in Reno, Francis also concurrently served his 339-day sentence in the child porn case.

In the years that followed, he avoided legal consequences over a slew of alleged assaults on women, and a Thanksgiving Day attack on his elderly parents, Raymond and Maria — who ultimately secured a five-year restraining order against him in September 2011. 

Then in August 2020, Francis spent 73 days in a Mexican jail for allegedly brutalizing his estranged girlfriend and the mother of his now 7-year-old twin daughters, Abbey Wilson, whom he had first met when she won his “Girls Gone Wild: Hottest Girl in America” competition in 2012. 

Blackford Newman said the audio from his alleged attack on Wilson at his Casa Aramara resort in Punta Mita, Mexico in 2020 was “the most unbelievably chilling” footage she uncovered during her research. 

Girls Gone Wild tour showed up at Tequila Frogs on South Padre Island, Texas in March 2003.
Girls Gone Wild tour showed up at Tequila Frogs on South Padre Island, Texas in March 2003.
AP

“When you hear a story about abuse, that’s one thing,” said Blackford Newman. “But when you actually hear somebody being beaten up … it is absolutely chilling.”

In a recorded call to resort security, which is featured in the documentary, Wilson is heard screaming, “You’re scaring me. Joe, stop. Stop it. You’re hurting me, you’re killing me.” To which Francis — who, at the time, had tested positive for COVID-19 —  responds, yelling, “Good. I hope you f – – king die. You f – – king bitch,” before spitting in her face. 

Wilson is now said to be raising their daughters “in hiding,” out of reach from Francis and without his financial support. Francis, now 49, is living as a fugitive in Mexico to escape battery and false imprisonment charges.

Blackford Newman told The Post that she reached out to more than 100 of Francis’ A-lister pals, including burgeoning social activist Kardashian, for a comment on his alleged reign of terror, but no one responded. (Representatives for Brad Pitt, Kim Kardashian and the Kardashian family did not immediately respond to The Post’s requests for comment.)

The documentarian hopes that her exposé serves as a wake-up call to the Kardashians and other big shots to be more mindful of the company they keep. 

“Younger, impressionable women, like Jannel . . . trusted Joe Francis because of his celebrity [affiliation],” she said. “[These celebrities] need to understand that they have a responsibility that if they befriend abusive child pornographers like Joe Francis, they’re giving them credibility.”

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here