Love and Lies

Hitting a Wrong Note?

In February, the media were abuzz when R&B crooner Chris Brown and pop princess Rihanna abruptly canceled their performances at the Grammys. Brown was subsequently investigated by the LAPD on claims of domestic assault. An affidavit showed that Rihanna was struck repeatedly, leaving her bloody and bruised. Now Brown faces two felony counts of assault with intent to cause bodily injury and making criminal threats.

Dr. Phil introduces criminal defense lawyer Darren Kavinoky, who says Chris Brown should not spend time in jail. "Darren, why?" Dr. Phil asks.

"The real point here " and I think it was beautifully illustrated with [the previous] couple just now " we lock people up for taking the actions that they take, but that's not the real problem," the lawyer replies. "Unless we're willing to really take a step back and focus on adjusting people's behaviors and thinking patterns, we're never going to get rid of our recidivism problem."


"Jail is not a halfway house," Dr. Phil says. "If some guy beats the crap out of some woman, I'm not sure that it is good public policy to deal with why he did it or didn't do it, as far as accountability for that issue. Should the efforts to rehabilitate this person include counseling and anger management, and even more, why he has so much rage inside of him? Probably so. But if you break the law, you've got to be willing to pay for it, right?"

[AD]"I think it's emphatically so," Darren replies. "I hear that Rihanna and Chris are now going to record a duet together. This may help Chris' case in the court of public opinion, but it will have no real benefit in a court of law. He still faces serious consequences for this alleged crime of hitting Rihanna. Remember, we've yet to see the most dramatic photos of the damage caused to her face. Whether or not they get back together in the studio and record this song, the district attorney may still prosecute to the full extent of the law, which means he could spend up to four years and eight months in prison."


The lawyer also addresses rumors about a secret marriage that has been reported. "Generally, there is a spousal communication privilege, and that's designed to preserve the sanctity of a marriage," he says. "However, that does not apply where it's alleged that one spouse committed a crime against the other, so there is no privilege here."

Dr. Phil shares his final thoughts about domestic violence. "There is a lot of privilege that comes with being famous. Chris and Rihanna both have had a great degree of success. They both have a tremendous degree of talent, in my opinion," he says. "Both Chris and Rihanna are very strong role models for kids. Teens, pre-teens, they look up to them and say, ‘I want to be that way. I want to emulate that.' That means, I think, they have a responsibility to step up and do the right thing. When they don't, I think they have to suffer that."

Dr. Phil and Robin have hosted Christmas in Washington for several years in a row, and Dr. Phil met Chris Brown when he performed for the benefit concert. "We spent two or three days with him rehearsing, and that sort of thing. He is a charming young man. That doesn't mean that they don't have a dark side," he says. "Recently, Oprah chimed in with a message for Rihanna saying, ‘Love doesn't hurt,' and ‘if a man hits you once, he will hit you again.' I can't tell you how much I agree with that. Rihanna, if she does take Chris Brown back into a relationship before he has gone to independent counseling, done the things he needs to do to heal the causes Darren is talking about, she is being reckless and foolhardy to take him back.

"Until you have somebody who doesn't have a dog in the fight, a professional that can look you in the eye and tell you independently, ‘I believe you are safe,' you should not go into that situation," he continues. "Whatever factors are there that triggered that outburst, I've seen nothing to suggest that those things have changed or gone away. And this self-defense theory, there is no theory for hitting a woman. You've got two feet. If you're getting beaten up by a woman, run away, call the police, get something between you and her, but you do not attack a woman. You just don't do it."