The Los Angeles Times' relentless Claire Hoffman, still on the ever-revolting Joe Francis beat, reported Wednesday that the "Girls Gone Wild" creator pleaded guilty to violating laws that protect minors from sexual exploitation. Francis admits that due to faulty -- and illegal -- record-keeping, "footage of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct appeared in at least two DVDs he released," according to the LAT.
Francis has skirted possible jail time by cutting a deal with the Justice Department, which requires that he and his softcore company, Mantra Films, pay a total sum of $2.1 million (a relative drop in the bucket for the company, which makes $40 million a year). In court documents, Francis said that he regrets the blunder and "will make sure that no other minors are used in 'Girls Gone Wild' films."
Still, last night's "Hannity & Colmes" demonstrated that not everyone is celebrating Francis' monetary amends (and served as a useful reminder for me to cancel my cable subscription). Co-host Alan Colmes asked guest Michelle Suskauer, a defense attorney, whether the girls in Francis' videos are truly being exploited, before concluding for himself, "These are women. They're knowingly going out. They're getting drunk. They know what they're doing." Colmes nicely muddled the discussion by ignoring the issue at hand: Legally, some of these performers were not grown women.
And then the kicker: "As I watch this ["Girls Gone Wild" video] one lesson I'm learning right off the top is no spring break for my kids, period," said co-host Sean Hannity. Colmes chimed in: "They'll never get out of the house." See, other people's daughters (the issue of whether they're underage again becomes muddled here) are mature and shrewd enough to know exactly what they're doing when they head to Cancun, Mexico, down a few Jager shots and flash their breasts for a "Girls Gone Wild" camera. It's just, uh, different when it's your own daughter.