Joe Francis Pleads Not Guilty to Sexual Assault
Girls Gone Wild founder claims allegation are 'ridiculous'
LOS ANGELES -
Posted May 23rd, 2007 00:00 AM by David Sullivan
Joe Francis has pleaded not guilty to charges of sexual assault stemming from a January 2007 incident in which an 18-year-old girl claims the 'Girls Gone Wild' founder repeatedly fondled her against her objections at a Los Angeles restaurant.
According to TMZ.com
, Francis is currently being held in Oklahoma under the watch of federal marshals. Lawyer Aaron Dyer entered the plea in L.A. County Court on Francis' behalf.
"The allegations made by the alleged victim claiming she was "touched" are ridiculous," Dyer said in a statement to TMZ. "There is absolutely no merit to these charges. Mr. Francis is a successful man in a high profile position, and unfortunately, that makes him a target of people who hope to benefit in some way from attacking him. Mr. Francis isn't going to sit by and put up with these types of baseless attacks. He will vigorously defend himself and take whatever action necessary to clear his name. We believe that the Court or the City Attorney's office will ultimately be convinced to dismiss this matter."
Francis will be back in court June 26 for a pre-trial hearing on the alleged sexual assault. He faces a $2,000 fine and six months in jail if convicted on the charges.
Meanwhile, the 'Girls' mogul is awaiting extradition to Reno, where he will stand trial on federal tax evasion charges.