"Girls Gone Wild" Creator Joe Francis Convicted of Assault, False Imprisonment

Softcore-porn impresario faces up to five years in prison after allegedly getting into a physical altercation with three women he met at a Hollywood club in January 2011

By Alexis L. Loinaz
|  Tuesday, May 7, 2013  |  Updated 11:18 AM EDT
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In this Sept. 7, 2012 file photo, Joe Francis attends the House of Hype Music Awards at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif.

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Joe Francis clearly isn't wild over this.

On Monday, the embattled "Girls Gone Wild" mastermind was convicted by a Los Angeles jury of assault and false imprisonment stemming from an incident in January 2011 involving three women he met at a Hollywood club with whom he allegedly had a physical altercation after taking them back to his house.

E! News has confirmed that the 40-year-old softcore-porn impresario was convicted on five charges following a two-week trial: one count of assault causing great bodily injury, three counts of false imprisonment and one count of dissuading a witness from reporting. If convicted, he could face up to five years behind bars.

In a statement, Francis tells E! News: "I have done NOTHING wrong! This is a total joke! It did not happen and that mentally challenged jury should be put in jail!"

On Jan, 29, 2011, the three women were celebrating a college graduation at Supper Club in Hollywood when Francis allegedly approached them and chatted them up. He later purportedly grabbed one of them by the hand and took her to his limo, and the other two women followed suit, reportedly believing that they were being driven to their car.

The foursome was instead driven to Francis' residence, where they allegedly got into a physical altercation after the porn honcho tried to pull one of the women away from the others. During the scuffle, Francis allegedly grabbed one of the women by the throat and hair and slammed her head into the tile floor several times.

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Afterward, as the women were being escorted out of the house, Francis allegedly threated them if they called police. They subsequently called 911 after getting into a cab that took them back to their parked car, where they were met by police officers.

"Whether a celebrity or not, you will be held accountable for your misdeeds," City Attorney Carmen A. Trutanic said in a statement. A sentencing hearing has been set for May 8.

The conviction is the latest legal blow to Francis, who just last month was slapped with a lawsuit by the trustee appointed to oversee the bankrupt Girls Gone Wild franchise as it seeks a restraining order against Francis following alleged "violent threats" he made against his formers staffers.

In 2009, Francis was taken into federal custody and put under house arrest amid his then-ongoing tax-evasion case. He later plead guilty to two counts of filing false tax returns and was sentenced to one year of probation in addition to paying $249,705 in restitution and a $10,000 fine.

--Additional reporting by Sharareh Drury

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