Joe Francis: 'The Only Criminals Are Those Persecuting Me'

When asked if he regarded Bagwell as a competent investigator, Meadows said, "I'm not gonna answer that question. … He's not employed by me. And I'm not gonna comment." Meadows also wouldn't say whether he was confident in Bagwell's abilities.

Days after Costello's condemnation, the number of charges was reduced from 71 to just eight.

The Shower Scene

Francis felt vindicated, but his celebrations were premature. It soon emerged that two girls in Panama City had lied about their ages to a "Girls Gone Wild" cameraman. They'd been paid to perform sex acts in a hotel bathroom and they were just 17. Francis was now charged with child prostitution.

When "Girls Gone Wild" arrived in Panama City in 2003, Franics held his usual briefing with the crews.

"I had a meeting with all the cameramen and just gave my policy discussion -- ID's, releases. That's my mantra," Francis said.

All performers must sign a release giving "Girls Gone Wild" the rights to sell the footage. Consent and identification that confirms the girls are 18 is often captured on tape, but two girls lied to a cameraman filming a shower scene at the Chateau Hotel. The girls were actually 17, and according to the state attorney, the burden for ensuring they're of legal age rests solely with the filmmakers. It's known as strict liability, and is a reading of the law which Francis contests.

"I don't believe they look 18," said Meadows. "And the impression is just what they are: a couple of high school girls who left high school class just a few hours before and were brought in by Mr. Francis and his crew into a setting in which they were extremely uncomfortable."

Meadows showed "Nightline" a portion of the atape, evidence that cannot be used against Francis because the court found it was obtained illegally.

"It's child pornography," Meadows said of the footage. "And we don't allow that to be possessed in Florida."

When asked if he agreed with Meadows' characterization of the tape, Francis said, "No," but when pressed he said, "I haven't seen the tape…that tape has been characterized to me very differently."

During filming the cameraman offers increasing amounts of money, from $50 to $400, to get the 17-year-olds to perform certain explicit acts. On two occasions the girls say they don't want to do what's being asked.

"This whole thing wouldn't have happened if it was me in charge," Francis said. He said "it's not policy" for girls to receive a rising fee dependant on the performance, but said they are paid, "just like Steven Spielberg pays an actor to be in a movie. Yes, 'Girls Gone Wild' pays some of its performers to be in their movies."

And does Girls Gone Wild pay more for more adventurous performances?

"Just like Playboy would pay more for a more adventurous performer, probably, you know 'Girls Gone Wild' would, too," Francis said.

Question of Culpability

Even if the girls were induced to perform, Francis maintains he wasn't there.

"You can see Joe Francis, you can see they are standing outside the bathroom," said Meadows.

Francis maintains that was "prior to the filming. I was in that room for merely a few moments and then I left the room."

"I was in another room of a suite," he said. "And then I left. And I was not there and didn't even know the filming was happening. Never paid attention to the filming happening."

So he is culpable?

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