The lawsuit claims that Dr. Phil personally pressured the 17-year-old’s parents into sending her to the Turn-Around Ranch, where she was allegedly groped by a male staffer.
A Colorado woman who appeared on “Dr. Phil” has filed a lawsuit against the television show and its eponymous host, saying she was sexually assaulted after Dr. Phil pressured her parents into sending her to a Utah clinic for treatment.
According to NBC News, the negligence lawsuit was filed earlier this week in Los Angeles County Superior Court. In her complaint, Hannah Archuleta said she was 17 years old when she appeared on “Dr. Phil” to discuss suicidal thoughts and other mental health concerns.
After the show, host Phil McGraw—who NBC News notes has a doctorate in psychology, but is no longer licensed to practice—allegedly told Archuleta’s parents that they should immediately send their daughter to the Turn-Around Ranch in Escalante, Utah.
“Dr. Phil said that, ‘Hannah needs to go to the Ranch now to have any chance at a good life’,” the lawsuit states.
McGraw purportedly pressured her father, Tony Archuleta, into sending his daughter to Utah, telling the parent he had “a Ph.D. in wimping out” and needed to “have the courage to win just this once.”
McGraw also allegedly used fear-mongering to have Hannah sent to the Ranch.
“If the reset button isn’t hit, Hannah will likely end up on a ‘one-way street to shock therapy,’ where they will ‘strap her down by force in a building with wires and fences’,” McGraw said.
The lawsuit says that McGraw was so intent on sending Hannah to the Turn-Around Ranch that her mother, Heather, had a panic attack.
While the show’s producers offered to “pay expenses for everything, including car rental, airfare, meals, and lodging for Hannah,” they did not disclose that the Turn-Around Ranch had a history of troubles. In 2016, for instance, a camp counselor was allegedly beaten to death with a metal bar by a 17-year-old male patient.
After Archuleta arrived to the Ranch, she told her parents that a staffer was trying to abuse her. Within several weeks of her arrival, Hannah said that “unnamed” male staffer tried to grope her.
Her father pulled her out of the program after she wrote to him asking for help.
The Archuleta family said in their lawsuit that they filed a complaint with the local sheriff’s department.
A spokesperson for McGraw denied the lawsuit’s allegations, observing that the television personality had no further interaction with Archuleta.
“None of the defendants in this case had anything to do with her program at the facility, as documents signed by the Archuletas reflect,” McGraw spokesman Jerry Sharell said in a statement. “We understand that she subsequently sued Turn-Around Ranch but that case was dismissed and recently refiled.”
Sharell, says NBC News, was referring to a lawsuit filed by attorney Gloria Allred against Turn-Around. However, the lawsuit did not name Dr. Phil as a defendant and was dismissed in June.
Sharell further claimed that the lawsuit suggests that McGraw had some sort of financial around with the Turn-Around Ranch, and that he had sent other patients there in the past.
“There are not and never have been financial ties to Turn-Around Ranch,” Sharell said.