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by Natalie Finn | Tue., Apr. 18, 2017 12:15 PM
Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images
Growing up is hard. Growing up in the spotlight is harder. Trying to keep your head on straight while your mom is spilling her personal beans on one of reality TV's biggest franchises can probably seem darn near impossible at times.
As we suspected, especially considering roughly a third of the Housewives are actually divorcées, the Bravo franchise—as most worlds unto themselves do—represents a microcosm of society that, when examined, will contain all of the triumphs, trials, tribulations and tragedies of a larger swathe of the population.
Only with a lot more money, cameras and publicity involved. And that spotlight isn't only on Mom.
Luann D'Agostino's daughter Victoria de Lesseps, who has appeared on a couple of episodes of The Real Housewives of New York with her mom, is the latest child of one of the franchise's stars to be caught allegedly breaking the law while actively being the offspring of a TV star.
The 22-year-old artist was arrested early on the morning of April 7 for DWI after police pulled her over in Sag Harbor for driving with her Land Rover's headlights off. Authorities subsequently determined she was intoxicated and Victoria ended up spending the night in jail. A court date has been set for May 5.
"I look forward to defending her vigorously in court," Victoria's attorney, Edward Burke Jr., told Page Six.
Meanwhile, all seems to be well with mother and daughter, Luann having just shared photos from her weekend spent out of the city with Victoria and son Noel.
Gorgeous weekend in the country. Enjoying the kids! pic.twitter.com/bbSYKT17Mt— Luann D'Agostino (@CountessLuann) April 15, 2017
Luann is actually one of the few Housewives who's been praised—like, the media have gone out of their way to say so—for the seemingly normal relationship she has with her kids, which includes being respectful of their privacy.
So while a DWI is serious business, it looks as though Victoria has her family's support and isn't going through this alone—nor is it likely to become a plot point on RHONY.
Not that a misstep can't become a teachable moment for all involved, including the audience...
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"I don't think in the 19 years of being a parent, I've felt that collapse inside," Yolanda Hadid said in 2014 on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, talking about then 17-year-old Bella Hadid's DUI that year. "I'm so disappointed by her choice. How did she make that decision? I thought the last thing that would ever happen would be for Bella to have a drink and get in a car."
Bella—now one of the most successful models around along with sister Gigi Hadid—had her license suspended for a year, served six months' probation and has stayed out of trouble since.
"I decided to take her phone away, make her pay for her own lawyer bills from her savings, and we sold her car," Yolanda revealed at the time. "Life taught her that sometimes good people make bad choices but that it doesn't mean they are bad people…it means they are human."
It was also a reminder that parents can only do so much to prevent their children—be they 17 or 27—from making mistakes.
And privilege doesn't mean anything when serious health issues like addiction are involved.
Having been in and out of trouble for years, Joshua Waring, son of former Real Housewives of Orange County star Lauri Peterson, was charged with attempted murder last summer after allegedly shooting a man in Costa Mesa, Calif., and fleeing in a stolen car.
At a preliminary hearing in December, a judge determined that there was enough evidence for Waring to be tried on three counts of attempted murder—two other witnesses testified that they were standing right by the man who was shot, hence the two additional counts.
According to police, Josh Waring, 27, pulled the trigger and then fled the scene in a stolen BMW SUV. Officers gave chase and, "after a brief standoff, he surrendered without further incident," police stated. Waring, who has a history of drug problems and run-ins with the law, was booked on suspicion of attempted murder, vehicle theft, felony evading police, hit-and-run, and assault and battery.
Peterson, one of the original Real Housewives (as Lauri Waring), left the show back in 2008 (though she has continued to weigh in on OC drama) during RHOC's fourth season, having had issues with her then teenage son throughout.
Lauri had been open about Josh's problems, including his battle with addiction, and there was a RHOC episode in which they went to counseling together. He was sentenced to juvenile detention during season one for having marijuana in school, he was sent to rehab in season three and, by season four, it was revealed he had a heroin addiction, prompting Lauri's exit from the show.
Courtesy of Costa Mesa Police Department
So while this latest turn of events was horribly sad, it didn't come as a particular shock.
In September 2008, Joshua was sentenced to 240 days in jail on three felony counts of possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell and six misdemeanors related to drug use or possession. Per the Los Angeles Times, he also pleaded guilty to hit-and-run in 2008, possession of drug paraphernalia in 2009 (he served 30 days in jail), and resisting a peace officer and drug possession in 2015—all misdemeanors. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail and another three years' probation in 2010 for violating his previous probation, according to the Orange County Register. "I think he's really getting picked on and treated unfairly," Peterson protested to the newspaper before he was sentenced.
In May 2016 he pleaded not guilty to felony drug and possession-related forgery charges. Bail was set at $1 million after Josh's arrest on the attempted murder charges.
Lauri and husband George Peterson had adopted her granddaughter, Kennedy, born in 2012 to Josh and his wife Hannah, in 2015.
A photo posted by Lauri Peterson (@lauri_peterson) on
"As most of the viewers know, I have a son and he's had just a lot of challenges," Lauri told Bravo's The Daily Dish in October 2015. "And he and his wife had a baby almost three years ago. He's really struggling and, well, they're both really struggling. And so [my husband] George and I elected to help out and we actually adopted Kennedy, and so we're raising her."
Lauri's former cast mate Jeana Keough, one of the original Real Housewives of Orange County stars, called Josh "a troubled child." She told E! News after he was arrested last June, "It's in the court's hands now. You're innocent until proven guilty. We don't know the situation. My prayers are with Lauri and her family."
Peterson is certainly not the only Housewife who's had a child struggle with the law or personal demons. Lynne Curtin, who joined the show's fourth season and stayed until 2010, had a bumpy relationship with daughter Alexa, who along with sister Raquel answered the door to a process server delivering eviction papers to their parents during a 2010 episode of RHOC.
"What the f--k?!" Alexa reacted. Lynne would later admit during that episode that her family had "champagne taste on a beer budget."
Several years after her family's time on the show, Alexa was arrested in 2013 for allegedly assaulting her then-boyfriend (now possibly ex-husband) Michael Devecchio, and last year she was arrested for public drinking. She then alleged in a lawsuit filed last year against the Orange County Sheriff's Department that she was sexually assaulted by a deputy during a 2014 traffic stop; she was charged with misdemeanor drug possession stemming from the same encounter.
The OCSD maintained in a counterfiling that Alexa consented to whatever she alleged she was forced to do, but she scored a legal victory in March when a judge compelled the OCSD to turn over the personnel file of the deputy in question to the court.
In January, meanwhile, Alexa's 88-year-old grandmother Marilou Colee accused her granddaughter of elder abuse in a request for a restraining order, claiming the 23-year-old broke into her home—where Lynne had also been living—and threatened her.
Colee's filing stated that she felt Alexa was spiraling out of control due to the trauma from being sexually assaulted in 2014.
"She has been raped by an Orange County sheriff, and this poor girl, she can't get it out of her mind," Colee told DailyMail.com in January. "She's upset with all of this. It's an awful thing to happen to a woman."
Lynne appeared on RHOC again when she attended Tamra Judge's baby shower, but she has not commented on Alexa's life much—other than when she found out her daughter had acted in porn in order to pay for plastic surgery.
"When I found out that Alexa was involved in porn, I became physically ill," Lynne told The National Enquirer in 2014.
She added, noting that she'd be there for her daughters "no matter what": "Alexa told me that she's no longer doing porn and only made a few movies last year. She thought she could make a few movies under an assumed name, get her nose and boobs redone, and nobody would ever recognize her. She's wrong. She now realizes this will follow her for the rest of her life thanks to the Internet."
But Marilou Collee told DailyMail.com that Lynne was sick over everything that was happening with Alexa.
"My daughter is so upset over all of this," the grandmother said. "She's depressed, she's that upset. We have a lovely home. We've always been a perfect family, the girls have never done anything. But later in my life this is so hard.
"Alexa started drinking, she's not with her husband anymore; it all kinda broke her heart. I pray every night that she'll straighten out. She's fragile. There are so many possibilities for her, though: modeling, dancing, anything."
Meanwhile, other Housewives kids have had their share of issues and run-ins with the law that have been discussed on their moms' shows.
On The Real Housewives of Miami, Alexia Echevarria's son Frankie was seriously injured in a car accident in 2011 and then son Peter was arrested in 2012 for assaulting a homeless man, and again in 2013 for marijuana possession.
Asked if her boys would be returning for the show's third season along with her, Alexia told Wetpaint, "Yes, my sons are my life. And last season, my story was not told. You saw bits and pieces, but viewers didn't see my whole journey. Frankie is progressing every day and I really want to show viewers this miracle."
"When Frankie's accident happened," she added, "it had so many other repercussions. It affected Peter tremendously and he got into trouble. But the biggest reason for that is the pain he was going through because of Frankie."
Meanwhile, NeNe Leakes' son, Bryson Bryant (he also goes by Brice), has had multiple run-ins with the law, several of which his mom addressed on The Real Housewives of Atlanta.
Bryson was arrested twice in March 2010, first for marijuana possession and again for possession of a controlled substance and possession of a weapon by an inmate (authorities finding one on him when he was being taken into custody).
DCAP / AKM-GSI
"My son is not the first young adult to experiment with marijuana, and he certainly won't be the last," NeNe said in a statement after his first bust. "Still, as parents, this is a chance for us to have an open dialogue with him about the dangers of any substance abuse. I realize as a parent that my job is never done. And as I've tweeted, tough love was in order. Still I ask that you respect our privacy during this trying time." (For bust No. 2, her rep said she stood by her previous statement.)
"I feel like it's time to show tough love," NeNe said on the show. "Bryson, he's had a really easy life. So, now I'm gonna show you what a hard life is."
He was sentenced to rehab in January 2015 after violating his probation from a 2013 DUI (he served house arrest) by not showing up for counseling and otherwise not following all the required stipulations of his sentence. He was also busted last June for trying to pass fake checks at a McDonald's.
Being called out on TV didn't particularly work for him back in the day, but according to his stepbrother, Bryson—the father of NeNe's granddaughter Bri'Asia—is "doing much better" these days.
"He's doing good now, he's working and trying to fly straight and avoid getting into more trouble than he's gotten into," NeNe's stepson and Bryant's stepbrother Damian Leakes told Radar Online in February 2016. "People make mistakes sometimes and it might take a little longer than some to get back on track."
And it very well may take being away from the cameras—if not the parents who are on camera all day, every day—to truly be able to focus. If getting back on track is even in the cards.
Josh Waring, sober at the time according to the columnist, opened up to the Orange County Register in 2007 about being on RHOC—and how he thinks the show affected his mother—after he was released from a treatment center in Apple Valley, Calif. As seen on the show, Lauri had signed him over to the state of California until he turned 18.
"She has changed," Josh said of Lauri. "She's a different person. I don't know if the show went to her head, or what. At one point, she went off to Europe [with George] and left me with the home and the car. I don't think she wanted to parent me."
"My mom was willing to expose [my problems] but not willing to handle it," Josh continued. "It was public entertainment, which pretty much disgusts me… If turning your son into a disposable item was necessary for success, she was willing to do it. If you watch this season, it's disgusting the lies I put on for my mom. I don't know why I put that face on for her. Maybe I was hoping she'd spend time with me."
"He had burned through all his family members," Lauri then told the OC Register in response to Josh's side of the story. "He needed a treatment program."
"Josh abandoned his home, abandoned his family," she insisted. "He is my son, but I will not enable him… For the last five years, I've given up my life for him. He has to accept responsibility for himself."
Josh had fallen off the wagon by the following year, and his ensuing series of arrests proved that recovery and rehabilitation have not been attainable for him yet, no matter how far removed he became from his time on RHOC.
"I was traumatized by Josh's arrest," Lauri told the OC Register in 2008 about her decision to leave the show after her son was arrested for heroin possession. "I truly was completely emotionally unavailable. I was crying continually, and I wasn't helping my son. For me, I needed to really pull back, concentrate on my emotional well being and deal with the aftermath of the arrest."
Leaving RHOC "wasn't something I took lightly. We talked this through. This took me weeks to try to figure out. It wasn't a rash decision. Once I bailed Josh out of jail, I just really needed my privacy. It needed to be as much a private matter as possible."
"Josh is not a stranger to problems. He had enough problems before the show. I truly believe drug addiction is a genetic illness. He was predisposed to it, and he has it," Lauri said. "Of course, I think the media sensationalized his drug use. I think the inaccurate reports do him injustice. But Josh's issues were way before the reality shows. He loved doing the show. He wanted to do it this season. But I'm the one who pulled that back."
The allure of reality TV still proved strong as well, and Lauri would pop up occasionally after her official exit; she briefly returned to RHOC in 2013, much to the consternation of Vicki Gunvalson, who blogged that Lauri was back to "stir up trouble."
A post shared by Lauri Peterson (@lauri_peterson) on
"George and I are slowly drifting into a different phase of our lives and now find ourselves preparing to be empty nesters," Lauri blogged for Bravotv.com at the time. "We are more like spectators versus managers of our adult children as they carve out their own paths."
But that was before she and George adopted Kennedy, and they went back to being full-time parents of a young child.
The Orange County Register reported, meanwhile, that Lauri was at Josh's pretrial hearing in December, taking notes throughout. He faces a possible life sentence if convicted on all counts at trial.
As we've seen on all of The Real Housewives franchises, be it Atlanta, Beverly Hills, New Jersey or Orange County and beyond, gates and tall hedges can't keep loss, trouble and tragedy out of the families' lives. And perhaps the fact that we've seen so much of what goes on behind closed doors is an indicator of just how right some of these women were for the job, their willingness to share their problems and live out their bad days on camera qualifying as a certain kind of bravery, however brazen it may seem at times.
But though these families might have thought they knew what they were getting into, the question remains—for all shows, let alone the Housewives—how much of the children's lives should we be seeing? It's one thing when the "kids" are adults, but even then there can still be a huge gap between being 18 and being emotionally equipped for a certain lifestyle.
One child's troubles can devastate an entire family, and addiction is a disease that can require treatment throughout a person's entire life. Surely Josh's predisposition was there long before his mom signed the family up for a reality show.
And yet, even though those gates and hedges can't keep the world out forever, kids should be able to trust that their parents aren't going to let the world in just because it knocks.
(E! News and Bravo are both members of the NBCUniversal family.)
(Originally published June 22, 2016, at 3 a.m. PT)
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