Jeff Lewis appeared on Tuesday's episode of The Wendy Williams Show and opened up about his legal battle with his daughter's surrogate.
The Flipping Out star described the dispute as a "real blow" and said he and Gage Edward never saw it coming.
"It seems like a little bit of a money grab to me," he told host Wendy Williams, adding that he couldn't get into too much detail about the case.
Lewis and Edward welcomed their daughter, Monroe Christine Lewis, via surrogate in October 2016. The birth appeared on their hit Bravo show and their surrogate, Alexandra Trent, was featured on several episodes. However, Lewis' dream of becoming a father soon followed with a legal nightmare.
According to People, Trent filed a lawsuit in June and accused the Flipping Out producers of filming her vagina without permission. She also alleged Lewis and Edward made "disgusting" comments on the show, including the following:
"If I was a surrogate, and I had known there was going to be an audience, I probably would have waxed," Lewis said during an on-camera interview. "And that was the shocking part for Gage. I don't think Gage had ever seen a vagina, let alone one that big."
According to the legal documents obtained by the magazine, the comment and filming "deeply damaged Trent" and "caused incredible anguish, self-loathing, contempt and depression." The celebrity news outlet also claimed Bravo, Authentic Entertainment, Lewis and Edward were all named in the suit, and that the accuser sought damages for unlawful recording, invasion of privacy and fraud.
"This is like a blow to the head. We are completely blindsided by this," the Bravo star told People in June. "We are just devastated. I thought we had a nice relationship, a friendship. We treated her like an extended member of the family. So you can imagine this is pretty stunning."
While Lewis told People he and Edward "couldn't be more grateful to this woman" and felt "indebted" to her for birthing their child, he also insisted her claims were "fabricated," "completely bogus" and without "merit."
"This smells to me like a financial shakedown," he told the magazine at the time.
He also said he later apologized for the comment.
In addition to the aforementioned allegations, Trent claimed she had no interest in being on Flipping Out and suggested she didn't know she would be on the show when she agreed to be their surrogate. Per the documents obtained by People, she ultimately agreed to film ultrasound appointments to promote the option of surrogacy; however, she allegedly did not want to film the birth. According to the aforementioned documents, the producers allegedly agreed to these conditions. However, she claimed they secretly filmed the birth behind a curtain.
Per People, a business associate informed her of the televised scene and Trent was "distraught and humiliated." She even alleged she canceled another surrogacy contract out of embarrassment.
However, Lewis remembered things a bit differently.
"I have a very different recollection of how things happened," he told Williams. "I will tell you that when you agree to film a show, you sign a release. And in this particular case, there were two releases that were signed: There was one in the very beginning, and then, when we did our surrogacy agreement, the release was included….So, you decide you're going to be on the show; you sign the release. You even have your attorney look at it. And then you can't say a year later that 'I didn't know I was being filmed.'"
He also said "there was a mention of more money mid-way through" the surrogacy process, which he described as a "red flag."
"That's why I think we're here now," he said. "It's really an unfortunate situation because there's so many thousands of people that do what we did—that go through this surrogacy process. But it's very scary when you spend tens of thousands of dollars to have multiple attorneys work on this and then the contract is just disregarded."
This isn't the only recent drama Lewis has experienced. He also parted ways with his longtime business partner Jenni Pulos after she accused him of abuse. He's since been cleared of all abuse victimization charges.
"I'm a very, very forgiving guy, and I never say never," he said on Monday's episode of Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen. "But when someone reports you for abuse to your bosses, that's kind of something that's hard to get over."
(E! and Bravo are both part of NBCUniversal).