June 21, 2013
Eighteen-year-old Leanna and her 17-year-old sister, Erica, made headlines when, after dancing at a strip club, they were arrested for theft, falsification of ID and child endangerment stemming from Erica’s underage topless dancing — and they say the media reports about that night are false and ruining their lives. The teens sit down with Dr. Phil to set the record straight. Their father, Don, says his daughters have a history of lying, and he doesn’t fully believe their accounts of what occurred on the night of their arrest. What does he think really happened? And, did he know his daughters were working at a strip club? Leanna and Erica’s older sister, Shannon, and grandmother, Doris, weigh in on the girls’ choices. Can they help Leanna and Erica realize the consequences of their actions? Then, Jennifer and Robert say their 18-year-old daughter’s false allegations of abuse caused their community to turn against them. They say Tiffany told police, family and friends that they’ve hit her and left bruise marks, kicked her in public and even locked her in a dog kennel. Tiffany admits to the lies and secretly audiotaping her mother — but why did she do this? With Dr. Phil’s help, can this family rebuild their trust?
Erica, 17, was recently arrested and charged with theft and falsification of ID after a night of topless dancing with her 18-year-old sister, Leanna. “I lied about my age to get the job, and I used an ID that wasn’t mine,” Erica confesses. She denies stealing anything.
“I was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and child endangerment,” Leanna says. “I was very angry that I was arrested because they thought I stole boots,” she adds. She says she was held in jail for four hours, while Erica sat in the waiting room. “I think it’s ridiculous.” She says she did not convince her sister to strip at the club with her. “She knew that we were going there and asked to tag along, and her decisions are her decisions.”
Leanna says she had been stripping for less than one month, and Erica says the night of her arrest was her second night of topless dancing at the club. Both sisters say their dad, Don, did not know they were stripping. “I just didn’t want my father to know because I knew it would break his heart,” Leanna says.
“I would have stopped it, had I known,” Don says of his two youngest daughters’ stripping. “It’s every father’s nightmare that this would happen. I was livid when I found out.”
Don says Leanna and Erica have a problem with lying. “It’s gotten to the point now where they can look me straight in my face and just lie,” he says. “They’ve gotten pretty good at it.” He says he believes his daughters are still lying about some of the details surrounding their arrest. He also says that they’ve tried alcohol and marijuana and that they’ve been known to shoplift. “Instead of asking me for [clothing], they just go and lift them out of the store,” he says.
Don says he’s at his wits’ end and has lost control of his daughters. “My biggest fear is that my daughters could end up hurt or dead someplace.”
“People who get on the Internet and bully, that is not OK,” Dr. Phil says in response to Leanna’s claim that people have bullied her and her sister. “But neither is it OK to go out and create problems and then play the victim,” he continues. “When you choose the behavior, you choose the consequences.”
“Quit breaking the law — then they don’t judge you,” he adds. “If [stripping] is what you want to do, then I would really ask why you don’t require more of yourself than that,” he tells the girls. He then offers Leanna and Erica professional help and support within their community to help get their lives back on track. “You can start by being honest with your father,” he tells the sisters. “You’ve got one person in this world who loves you, and puts your interests ahead of his own, and would lie down in the street to save your life. Do not disrespect and dishonor him with lies.”
Leanna was found guilty of curfew and child endangerment. She was ordered to pay a fine.
Jennifer says her daughter, Tiffany, has always had a problem with lying. She says Tiffany told her principal, police, a social worker, friends and other parents that Jennifer and her husband, Robert, have physically abused her at least five times. “Tiffany has claimed that we put her in a dog kennel, my husband has bit her, I’ve thrown an iron at her, I’ve thrown her down the stairs, we took her into the basement and beat her with baseball bats,” Jennifer explains. “Tiffany showed her principal pictures of bruises that supposedly came from us.”
“The truth is that the bruises on Tiffany’s legs came from cheerleading,” Robert explains. “I’ve never spanked her. I’ve never laid my hands on my daughter.”
“These were horrible, sick, malicious lies that were not true,” Jennifer says. “I believe 100 percent that Tiffany enjoyed the power that she received. That just fueled the fire, and she didn’t know how to stop it.” She says that during the course of Tiffany’s lies, the teen left the house and lived with another family for eight months. “I begged her several times to come home,” Jennifer says. “If I could talk to my daughter, without any fear of retribution, I would look her in the face and say, ‘Shame on you. That is not how we raised you.’”
Tiffany admits to the lies and secretly audiotaping her mother — but why did she do this?
“You seem to have a need for drama,” Dr. Phil tells Tiffany. He asks if she needs help unraveling her current situation, and she says yes. He then asks if she needs help in her relationship with her mother, and she again says yes. “Wouldn’t it be terrible if you were sabotaging the one person who would be the proudest of everything you ever accomplished?”
He offers to provide help and tells the family, “It’s time to fix this.”