Anatomy of Abuse: Lee

Anatomy of Abuse: Lee

Several weeks after the show taped, Amy took her three children and moved out of her parents' house. "My husband and I decided to get back together and work through things," she says.

Her father expresses disbelief. "What hurt is the fact that she wanted to take Amerie and the other kids back into that same environment," Stan says.

 

"Amy went back home to her husband, Lee, and we have lost communication with Amy," Cynthia laments.

 

"I would, honestly, not really rather have a relationship with them, just because I feel that I have to have some kind of control over myself, over my children, over my life," Amy explains.

 

Lee feels victorious. "It did take a bit of convincing to get her to come back to give me another chance. After a little bit of begging and pleading, it finally worked out," he says. Yet, his joy is short-lived. "Because of Child Protective Services, they have said that I'm not to be living with my children right now."

 

"He is my husband. He is the father of my children, and I'll be damned if I let my family fall apart without a good fight!" Amy declares. She has noticed a positive change in her husband. "Lee is doing wonderfully with our children. He stopped being the disciplinarian. He will correct them if he needs to, but he won't discipline [Amerie]; he leaves that up to me."

Lee says he's on the road to recovery. "I haven't touched my kids out of anger since this whole incident has started. With Amerie now, whenever she misbehaves, I put her in time-out, and I just try to stay away from her until I've calmed down and I can talk to her about things," he says. "The idea of losing my family is what really made me realize, ‘Hey, I can't act like this.'"

Lee joins Dr. Phil via satellite. Because of his probation charges, he is not allowed to leave the state.

"Tell me why you wanted to be part of this show today, be part of this discussion," Dr. Phil says. 

"I've always wanted to have a wife and kids; that was always my dream, something I really wanted in my life. I let a lot of the stress that I had take it over, and I want to fix that," Lee replies. "I want to try to atone for what I've done wrong in the past to my wife and my children."

"Have you been honest with people about what you have done? Have you been honest with your mother about what you've done?" Dr. Phil asks.

"Not entirely. A lot of it is out of embarrassment and just being ashamed of myself," Lee admits. 

"Have you physically abused your daughter?"

"I don't think I have, no. I popped her on the butt once or twice, but I wouldn't say I've abused her, never," Lee insists.

Lee's claim that he never abused his daughter, Amerie, contradicts what he said in his initial interview with the Dr. Phil show. Dr. Phil plays back the tape of Lee saying, "I guess I got a little carried away disciplining our oldest daughter, and I guess I ended up leaving a mark on her."

"That's what you said when we interviewed you two months ago, right Lee?" Dr. Phil asks.

"That's what I said," Lee admits.

 

Dr. Phil shows a picture of Lee's daughter's bruised back. He then plays a video of 3-year-old Amerie saying, "My daddy choked my mom. They fight each other, and they can't stop. I tried to stop him, but he didn't. He hit me too hard and banged me on the floor."

"I want to be very clear. We're very careful about interviewing children, particularly about anything that's toxic. Amy was right there, and we were just doing B-roll with the child saying, ‘Gee, tell us about your doll. Tell us about your mom and dad. Tell us about your sister.' There were no questions that pulled for any of this content," Dr. Phil stresses. "It was just spontaneously offered during our shooting there, correct?"

"Correct," Amy says. Addressing Lee, Dr. Phil says, "You cannot change what you don't acknowledge. I am trying to get to the bottom of this to find out what you're getting real about and what you're still defensive about."

Lee addresses his daughter's allegation that he banged her on the floor. "I don't know where that came from. I didn't do anything like that," he tells Dr. Phil. "The incident that is in question, like I said, I popped her on the butt. That was it. I didn't bang her on the floor. Even when Amy and I got the way that we got, when we got physical with each other, Amerie did tell me to stop, and I did." 

"Lee was choking me. Amerie went to go stop him, and he turns around and throws her across the room?" she asks, amazed. "For [Amerie] to sit there and say, ‘I was banged on the floor,' he had Amerie across his lap. She never even touched the floor."

"You're the one who told me that when Lee had you up against the wall choking you, Amerie came between you two and stopped you, and he pushed her out of the way," Cynthia supplies.

Dr. Phil can't believe what he's hearing. "I feel like I am in the Twilight Zone. We're talking about arguing the details of a situation, the points we can agree on are absolutely, absurdly unacceptable! We are arguing about whether [Amerie] was slammed to the floor, and you go, ‘No, no, no. He was just holding me up against the wall choking me and threw her against the wall. How dare you say he held her on the floor!' Are you kidding me?" Dr. Phil asks Amy, incensed. 

Addressing Lee, Dr. Phil says, "Did you tell us, ‘I'm afraid I will hurt them'?"

"I do remember saying that."

"Did you say, ‘I am afraid I might lose it and kill her,' referring to Amy?" 

Lee responds, "I remember saying that too, yeah."

"Can we also agree that you have shoved, choked, slapped, spit, punched and kicked Amy?"

Lee pauses. "I don't like to admit it, but I can. I will," he says. 

"Can we agree that you have followed her around the house with a hammer, and you have held a knife to her throat?"

"Yeah, I know what you're talking about. That happened once, and the knife thing did happen," Lee admits.

Dr. Phil continues his line of questioning. "Can we agree that you have dragged her by her hair, stepped on her head, and, on one occasion, knocked her unconscious?" he asks.


"I don't remember knocking her unconscious. Honestly, I don't," Lee answers. 

"But you're OK on the facts that you dragged her by the hair and stepped on her head?" Dr. Phil probes.

"That sounds like stuff that I've done."

Dr. Phil addresses Sandy. "Are we clear on what he had been perpetrating inside this family?"

"Yes," she replies.

"You can't help him if you don't have some tough love and understand that he's not just a good boy, and anything he does is OK," Dr. Phil says.

 

"I know that. I've never said that," Sandy replies.

Turning to Stan, Dr. Phil asks, "Grandpa, how do you feel about this?"

"It's an unacceptable situation. It's very simple: A man of 31 years old should not touch his wife nor his child in that way," he replies. 

When Dr. Phil asks why the in-laws are bickering, Sandy says wryly, "We've got some history, I guess."


Cynthia refutes this. "We don't have any history. All you have is Amy and Lee feeding you what they want you to know. You've never really talked to me, except the day I called 911, and I was already in a high state of stress," she tells Sandy. 

"I have a problem with that day because I think you lied," Sandy shoots back.

Dr. Phil takes Sandy to task. "For argument's sake, let's assume she did. Would that not pale in comparison to the relevancy of the information you're gathering as we speak?" he asks.

"Yes, however, the situation is bad enough; the kids are disrupted, the whole family is disrupted. This family has to be fixed. More lies don't need to be told," Sandy says. 

"You can lie to yourself as viciously as you can lie to somebody else," Dr. Phil comments.

"I understand that. I'm not lying to myself," Sandy says. "What can we do to help the children, and help Lee and Amy?"

"Number one, you can check your egos at the door. Number two you can stop this childish bickering turf war because I'm tired of hearing it. I can only imagine what the children think," Dr. Phil replies.