'Girls Gone Wild' firm fined $2.1 million
Entertainment company pleads guilty to federal charges of not including ages of female participants on tape.
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The entertainment company that produces "Girls Gone Wild" films pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges stemming from the failure to document the ages of female performers in their sexually oriented productions.
The Justice Department announced that Mantra Films of Santa Monica, Calif., entered a plea agreement in a federal court in Panama City, Fla.
Authorities said Joseph Francis, founder of Mantra Films and a related firm, MRA Holdings, also agreed to plead guilty to deferred charges to be filed later in Los Angeles, and to pay fines and restitution totaling $2.1 million.
The "Girls Gone Wild" videotapes - often featuring young semi-nude women partying heavily - are widely advertised on some cable television channels.
Mantra Films specifically pleaded guilty in the Florida courtroom to charges that it failed to create and maintain age and identity documents for performers in its sexually oriented films, and that it failed to label its videotapes and DVDs as required by federal law.
Court documents say alleged violations included productions titled "Ultimate Spring Break," "Girls Gone Wild on Campus Uncensored," "Totally Exposed Uncensored and Beyond," and "Girls Gone Wild College Girls Exposed/Sexy Sorority Sweethearts."
The Justice Department said the case is the first filed under a law passed by Congress designed to prevent the sexual exploitation of children.
The law, which prosecutors call Section 2257 - is intended to protect minors by requiring producers to create and maintain age and identity records for every performer in sexually explicit movies and other media.
Label making for tapes
Distributors must label their tapes and discs with the name of the custodian of the records and their location, prosecutors said.
"Today's agreements ensure that Girls Gone Wild will comply with an important law designed to prevent the sexual exploitation of minors and puts other producers on notice that they must be in compliance as well," said Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher.
Officials said Francis will pay $500,000 and his firms, Mantra and MRA Holdings, will together pay $1.6 million. The case does not shut down "Girls Gone Wild."
Under terms of the deal, after three years the Los Angeles charges against MRA will be dismissed if the company fully complies with the record-keeping laws and has made full restitution.
'Girls Gone Wild' rivals such as New Frontier Media (up $0.15 to $8.75, Charts) and Playboy (up $0.11 to $9.25, Charts) have also used adult movies, Internet and other media outlets to gain viewership and hopeful participants.