'Girls Gone Wild' Founder Ordered to Stay Away

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NEW YORK (TheDeal) -- "Girls Gone Wild" founder Joseph R. Francis will have to stay away from the adult video franchise.

Judge Sandra R. Klein of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles this week verbally granted a temporary restraining order against Francis, according to Matthew C. Heyn of Klee, Tuchin, Bogdanoff & Stern LLP, counsel to the Chapter 11 trustee for GGW Brands LLC.

Heyn said Klein requested some minor modifications to the proposed TRO. A hearing on a preliminary injunction against Francis is set for May 8, Heyn said.

Trustee R. Todd Neilson of Berkeley Research Group LLC on Tuesday sued Francis in the bankruptcy court, asking Klein to hold Francis in contempt for violating the automatic bankruptcy stay of his GGW Brands. Neilson also sought a TRO and permanent injunction barring Francis from attempting to influence control over the debtor or from coming within 100 feet of its premises.

Neilson alleged Francis has continued trying to exert control over the company and has made "violent threats" to the company's employees. The founder of GGW is no longer a manager or member of the company.

"Although he contends that he no longer has any economic interest in the debtor and that he gave up such economic interest long ago, Mr. Francis has exerted significant influence over the debtor's personnel and operations by speaking to and directing the actions of the debtor's personnel," Neilson wrote, asserting Francis has continued to attempt to exert influence over the company even after the trustee's appointment.

Specifically, Neilson called GGW's arrangement for office space "idiosyncratic." The debtor's principal place of business on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles is leased by Perfect Science Labs LLC. Perfect Science uses the space but also subleases portions to GGW and Argyle Online LLC, which produces GGW content. GGW is allegedly on a month-to-month lease that it not written down and does not clearly delineate what space belongs to each entity. Francis, meanwhile, maintains an office in the space that is allegedly part of the Perfect Science portion of the building.