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‘Girls Gone Wild’ Exec Gets a Year in Fatal Hit-and-Run

‘Girls Gone Wild’ Exec Gets a Year in Fatal Hit-and-Run

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif.—Ryan Bowman, the 34-year-old Australian who owns Zeal Entertainment, a company that runs the Down Under version of “Girls Gone Wild,” and who last year fled the scene after hitting and killing 21-year-old Lauren Ann Freeman on a West Hollywood street with his Bentley, was sentenced Friday to just under one year in jail after reaching a plea deal with prosecutors.

The horrific accident, which AVN reported on last year, took place shortly before midnight on Nov. 10 as Freeman, a fashion design graduate who had just left a concert at the Roxy, was in the crosswalk attempting to cross Sunset Boulevard at Hammond Street. According to the Los Angeles Times, she was thrown about 50 feet by the impact of the dark-colored Bentley driven by Bowman. Other news reports indicate that hundreds of people were in the immediate vicinity of the collision.

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“Sheriff's investigators said Bowman fled in the car, and that debris found at the scene suggested that the vehicle could have been a dark-colored Bentley,” reported the Times. “They later found such a vehicle abandoned in a residential neighborhood near the intersection of Melrose Avenue and La Cienega Boulevard, about 1 1/2 miles from the incident.” Bowman turned himself in the next day.

Friday, the Associated Press reported, "Bowman sat trembling in the Beverly Hills courtroom, tears rolling down his cheeks, as he listened to the heartbreaking words from a family destroyed by his actions."

According to the AP, nine members of Freeman's family took turns delivering "tear-filled" statements, at times directed at Bowman, explaining the devastation he had wrought.

"Her father, mother and brother Andrew Freeman have been so traumatized they are on medication and are seeing a psychiatrist," the wire reported. "Mr. Freeman senior told how when he said goodbye to Lauren in the morgue her hands had to be covered by gloves because they were so damaged and when he kissed her face it was 'freezing cold.'"

At one point, the victim's father, Baltimore lawyer Steve Freeman, asked the room, "What I can't understand is how the defendant could leave my little girl in the street like a piece of trash." He then stopped talking, reported AP, and looked across at Bowman, and for "five chilling seconds locked eyes with him."

"Like a piece of trash on the road," he then yelled, directly at Bowman. "My little girl."

When it was Bowman's time to speak, his voice was shaking and he was breathing heavily, according to the AP, which quoted him as saying he "will be forever haunted" by his actions.

"I didn't stop my car and I wasn't there as I should have been to see if I could help Lauren," he said.

The judge then sentenced Bowman to 364 days in jail at the Seal Beach Detention Center, though he could be released in as little as six months. The AP story also noted that the Detention Center, where Bowman must report by today, "boasts a newly renovated kitchen, library, commissary, inmate programs and in-room cable television with a movie library".

Bowman, the article added, "will be allowed to leave the jail between 8am and 5pm to visit his place of employment and once a month visit a physician."  

The seemingly light sentence is the result of a negotiated plea that got the original charge of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence reduced to leaving the scene of a collision. Bowman also agreed to pay an undisclosed sum to the Freeman family, and he also was served with a civil lawsuit by the family as he was leaving the courtroom Friday, according to the AP.





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