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Dr. Phil's Bedside Manner: Brainwashing, Groping, Falsely Imprisoning?

Dr. Phil

UPDATE #2: On Nov. 24, 2009, Shirley Dieu and Crystal Matchett refiled amendments to their lawsuits against the TV doctor, specifying what they were receiving treatment for in their controversial therapy sessions: Dieu for "problems with men," and Matchett for "anger issues."

"Dr. Phil's comment was, 'We're never alone in the Phil house,' and yeah, that's right, that's why we won't have a problem here proving [the suit]," Dieu told E! News. "We have a picture of him touching my breasts. The pictures show what a perv he is."

The alleged grope took place when Dr. Phil told her, "You think too much with your head, you need to think with your heart." It was then, Dieu claims, the good doctor got handsy. And she got sick.

"I have Crohn's Disease and stress is what brings it out of remission and it came out of remission so bad after this that I ended up in the hospital."


UPDATE: McGraw's rep has just released the following statement to E! News: "All of Shirley Rae Dieu’s claims are without merit...Dr. Phil is never alone in the House with any of these guests and all of his interactions are captured on video- and/or audiotape.

"Ms. Dieu filed a claim with the Los Angeles Police Department some nine months after the incident, which was investigated and ultimately not pursued by the Los Angeles city attorney. All guests of the show are treated with dignity and respect and the show stands by the manner in which she was handled while participating on the show."

We don't know what the disease was, but this is one instance where the treatment was definitely worse. Much, much, creepily worse, if the allegations are true.

Dr. Phil McGraw was on the receiving end of a bizarre and damning, to say the least, lawsuit yesterday, with a former female patient of his alleging that the TV doctor and select members of his production staff held her captive, brainwashed her and subjected her to constant exposure by a naked man, among other accusations.

She also claims that McGraw even once groped her during a therapy session.

All told, the 56-year-old Shirley Dieu is suing McGraw, Paramount Pictures, which produces his show and on whose lot the alleged captivity took place, two show producers and another doctor, for brainwashing, indecent exposure, illegal touching assault and battery, public ridicule and humiliation, mental and physical abuse, fraud, negligence and intentional harm, practicing without a license, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and preventing a witness from reporting a crime.

That's it—one more batch of scandalous talk show host allegations and we're looking at a trend.

Dieu is representing herself in the case and filed the suit in Los Angeles Superior Court yesterday over the incidents, which she claims went down almost exactly two years ago to the day. There's no word on why she waited so long to file the suit, but more pressing legal matters could be to blame. Dieu filed for bankruptcy in 2008 and seems to have a rather sue-happy past—not that she'd agree, of course.

"Everything that is in that complaint can be back up, 100 percent, with not only witnesses but pictures and film," Dieu told E! News. "I'm not a crazy lady and I'm not a sue-happy person. This is all about exposing someone who hurt a lot of people."

Exposing certainly seems to be the operative word.

Dieu claims the current list of wrongdoings took place between Oct. 9 and Oct. 11, 2007.

While she does not specify why or for what ailment she sought Dr. Phil's assistance, she claims she was held captive in his Hollywood studio, itself bordered by 12-foot walls and fences, where despite repeated attempts to escape she was told to stay and even physically prevented from leaving.

She claims she was unethically and illegally being treated by McGraw, who she claims is not licensed to practice in California. And while her diagnosis is unclear, she makes no bones about the prescription.

Dieu claims she was "forced to be in the same room with a completely naked live man while he exposed his entire naked body, genitals and all."

During her involuntary stay, she says staff not only prevented her from leaving but cut the phone lines when she attempted to call 911. She says she was denied access to her cell phone and was routinely promised food, books and other items which never materialized.

At one point, she claims she "was told to sit in one spot for an unrealistic amount of time and told to not leave her seat." When she attempted to get up, she was "touched inappropriately in order to prevent her from escaping."

Dieu also says she was "brainwashed to trust her captures" and "programmed" to believe she was in a safe environment and receiving "real therapy from a licensed doctor."

According to the court documents, she says she suffered public ridicule and humiliation when she was subjected to edited tapings that "mislead the public" and warped her depicted personality.

As for the TV doctor, she claims that during an Oct. 9 therapy session with Dr. Phil, she "was touched on her left breast." She went on to say that she was afraid to say anything about it at the time, but that she was "touched improperly" by some of the other defendants (other than McGraw, she doesn't name names).

She claims the experience resulted in severe trauma and caused her to seek therapy—well, more therapy—and led to her hospitalization.

She is seeking unlimited general damages, punitive damages, exemplary damages, fees and court costs and claims she is only the first of several plaintiffs who will be stepping forward in coming weeks.

"There will be another girl filing today or tomorrow," she said, adding that six talk show participants were present during the alleged incident, which she has documentation to prove.

"The only reason she didn't appear on my filing is because she is from out of state and we needed an original signature."

Dieu says this sort of behavior has taken place before, and claims that both she and the second mystery woman have filed criminal complaints against Dr. Phil in the past.

"There was a police report and we filed criminal charges. It was investigated, but he's too well protected. It's really sad that he gets away with what he does.

"I would love to hear what he has to say. This man owed me an apology for a long time and I haven't gotten an apology."

And it's that apology, along with a change in behavior, that Dieu says she's after.

"I don't want the limelight. I want the limelight on Dr. Phil for what he did. I don't even care about money. This is all about this man being exposed so it doesn't happen to other people."

Dr. Phil has yet to comment on the suit, to which we say: Physician, heal defend thyself.

(Originally published on Oct. 8, 2009, at 9:45 a.m. PT)


Dr. Phil's not the only talk show host in the headlines. Get the latest on David Letterman's attempted shakedown.