from www.cbsnews.com – Last October, “The Tyra Banks Show” told viewers it was seeking “sex addicts” to participate in a future program.
A 15-year-old girl named Jewel — “The Early Show” isn’t using her last name — responded on the talk show’s website, and was flown to New York to appear with Banks and talk about her purported problem.
Jewel’s mom says she knew nothing about this, never gave her permission, and even filed a missing persons report.
Now, she’s suing the show and its distributor for $3 million.
On “The Early Show” Friday, Jewel and her mother, Beverly McClendon, and their attorneys, Wanda Jackson and George Lawson, discussed the case.
Why did Jewel go on the show?
Jewel said, “I was infatuated with Tyra Banks, watched her show every day and just wanted to try it out.”
“Early Show” co-anchor Chris Wragge said, “Did you think, though, ‘I could probably get away with this and Mom won’t find out and I can, you know, forge these slips and go up there to New York and (she’ll) be none the wiser for it?” ‘
Jewel replied, “Um, yeah.”
So what happened when her mother found out – was Jewel worried?
Jewel said, “I mean, I was worried, too. But, at the same time, I’m like, OK, I’m out here, let’s just do it and go back home.”
Wragge asked Jewel, “Do you look back on the experience and say, ‘You know what, it probably wasn’t the best decision I’ve made.” ‘
“Most definitely, yeah,” she said.
Wragge asked Jewel, “Do you think that they treated you unfairly and took advantage of the fact that you were young?”
She replied, “I do.”
He offered, “Probably would tell a good story and probably made a better guest?”
She said, “I do. I do. Most definitely, I do.”
As for Jewel’s mother, McClendon she said when Jewel asked her to go she “emphatically stated, ‘No. Absolutely not.” ‘
“I didn’t feel she needed to go,” McClendon said. “What was the point?”
Wragge asked, “Had she ever done anything like this before? I mean, left the house and not told you? I know you filed a missing person’s report, but is this something that had happened before?”
McClendon said, “No, not to this extent, absolutely not.”
Jackson, McClendon and Jewel’s lawyer, said, “I mean, she’s a precocious teenager, so she’s been a little defiant, as many teens have been and are. Many of us have done things and when we look back, they weren’t the best decisions to make. But, that’s not our issue. Our issue is this was done without this mother’s consent. Or knowledge.”
Wragge replied, “But, let me ask you this, though: I’m sure ‘The Tyra Banks Show’ would say, ‘Hey we’ve got a signed consent form.’ If they have paperwork… ”
Jackson responded, “My 10-year-old signs his report card when it’s bad. That’s what kids do sometimes. So, you have to have controls in place, Chris, and that’s what we’re talking about: negligence, extreme negligence. You’ve got to have controls in place and, in this day and age, with technology and the Internet, she goes online. They fax the consent and release forms. She signs, faxes them back. Too loose, just extreme negligence for a powerhouse, such as that show and that production company.”
Warner Brothers responded to “The Early Show”‘s request for a statement about the case. Scott Rowe, senior vice president of Worldwide Communications Warner Brothers Television Group, wrote, “We aren’t commenting on the ‘Tyra’ suit at this time.”
The ‘Tyra’ camp does have a signed consent form, Wragge pointed out. So does Warner Brothers have a better case?
Lawson, McClendon and Jewel’s other lawyer, responded, “Absolutely not. They knew very well that that statement that they had signed, this consent form that they had signed, had never been verified, never been checked. There was no due diligence on their part. To do anything with that statement. They, in fact, sent us the statement because we did not have a copy of it, because we knew that it was a forged document. And the oddity of the whole process is that they flew a young man to New York with her from a little small town in Georgia called McDonough, Ga. as a chaperone, but oddly enough, asked him for identification. But never asked the mother for anything to verify that this was this mother’s signature.”
The lawsuit seeks a jury trial and asks for $1 million in compensatory damages and $2 million in punitive damages. It also asks the court to bar the episode from ever being aired again on television or online.