Predator in the House: Kitty and James

Affectionate or Inappropriate?

"James and I got married seven years ago, and we divorced due to an inappropriate relationship he was having with his daughter," alleges Kitty. "It seemed like there were secrets between them. There were a couple of instances where she was slipping her hands up his shorts, and her hand would start wandering. She'd pull her shirt up and say, 'Daddy, can you rub my stomach?' and then she'd push his hand a little bit further up. I asked him, 'Do you realize what you're doing? She's 11 years old.' He'd say, 'Oh, I was watching the game. I wasn't even paying attention.' I feel like it's crossing the line. James and his daughter call it being close. I call it wrong."


Kitty has considered reconciling with her ex-husband, but wants to make sure nothing improper is taking place between him and his now 15-year-old daughter. "After we divorced, I discovered that his daughter and he had been sleeping in the same bed. I can't think of any reason that it would be appropriate for a teenage girl to be sleeping with her father in the same bed," she says. "I felt betrayed. I felt like I'd been lied to for all these years, that I fell in love with this man and he thinks that this is OK. I don't know how far it's gone, but I hope they haven't had sex. I don't think they have. I think he's touched her."


Kitty says she is obsessed with getting to the bottom of the story. "I have this gut feeling something is wrong, the fact that he can't answer my questions honestly. This whole inappropriate relationship with his daughter is the main reason that I wouldn't even think about getting back together with him," she asserts.

James gives his account of the story. "Kitty is uptight. Kitty is jealous. She is bothered by the affection that my daughter and I show each other. We show too much passion, and she doesn't relate to it," he says. "When my daughter sits on my lap, I do not find that out of the ordinary. Very early in her childhood, I would rub her back. She would fall asleep with me on my chest. She was very loved and rubbed to make sure she was comfortable going to sleep."


Maintaining his innocence, James says, "Kitty thinks I have crossed the line with my daughter, but I haven't. My daughter has actually slept with me. Kitty has taken it out of context. The only time my daughter slept with me would be during storms, scary movies that she had watched. My daughter and I have talked about this and she's quite fine with it."


James believes that there is an underlying reason for his ex-wife's suspicions. "Kitty is obsessing over it," he says. "If I did cross the line, I would like Dr. Phil to give me the guidelines to change what I've done."

Addressing the couple, Dr. Phil says, "You understand that I consider this to be a very serious topic and a very serious question. I assume both of you take it the same way."

"Yes, we do," Kitty replies.

"My whole point is the child is totally a victim in circumstances where molestation is taking place. They don't have a voice. They don't have the ability to fight back, and I'm the chance to be that voice. What is your reason for wanting to be here?" Dr. Phil asks Kitty. 

"I want to be here because I'd like some answers. I've asked James direct questions and can't get direct answers," she answers. "Sometimes, I feel like he's lying, or covering up, or making excuses. My ultimate reason for being here is for him to get help, and to make sure that his daughter gets help."

"So you think he's guilty? You think he's been inappropriate with his daughter?"

Kitty mulls over the question. "I think he's been inappropriate. I know what I've seen, but I don't know how far it's gone."

Turning to James, Dr. Phil says, "Why did you agree to be here?"

"Because this is a major issue. I love my children. I'm going to see where this goes because there's nothing that's happened," James insists.

Dr. Phil addresses Kitty's concerns. "She's troubled by the fact that you're sleeping in the same bed with your 15-year-old daughter. It's a full-size bed that's 53 inches," he points out.

"It's not continuous. It's happened fewer than five times," James declares.

Kitty chimes in, "One time is too many to me."

"Is that inappropriate, as you look back on it?" Dr. Phil asks James. 

"I don't think so," he replies. 

Dr. Phil continues, "She says that she has observed your 15-year-old daughter sitting in your lap, having her hand on your leg, straddling your lap, while y'all are tickling and wrestling, while you're only wearing what you call sleep shorts. What do you think about that?"


"At the time, obviously, I wasn't thinking clearly about it, because we probably just woke up, and we were talking about what we were doing for the day," James admits. "It was just innocent." 

Dr. Phil continues questioning James. "You said, 'I think I was doing it for guilt reasons because of the divorce.' Define 'it' for me," he says. 

"The affection, the hugging, telling her I love her all the time, that I won't leave, that I'll always be there," James elaborates. 

"'If I crossed the line, I did it out of guilt,'" Dr. Phil says, reading a quote from James. "Where do you think you may have crossed the line, if you did?"

"Obviously, allowing her to sleep in my bed when she was scared, or nervous, or trying to adjust, coming to my new home so far away," James says. "She eventually ends up in her bed."


"There are two potential tragedies here. One is if something inappropriate is going on between you and this daughter, and nothing is done about it. That would be tragic," Dr. Phil observes. "The other tragedy is if a father who is loving and affectionate with his daughter gets vilified for doing that in a world where everybody is hypersensitive to it. That would be tragic and unfair to you and your daughter."  

Dr. Phil wonders why Kitty has not acted on her suspicions. "You, obviously, believe that something is going on here. If that's true, why would you not walk, but run, in the opposite direction?" he asks her. "Why have you not called Child Protective Services? Why have you not done any and everything you can to protect this child?" 

"I was going to call and report, but I was told that I had to have proof," Kitty responds. "I had to have videotapes. I had to have recordings, and that kind of thing."

Dr. Phil explains that the system doesn't work that way. "The Child Protective Service is what we call a false-positive system. We would rather investigate 100 circumstances that are unfounded, than fail to investigate one that is founded," he stresses. "Do you really believe this?"

"I believe everything that I've said and I've seen," Kitty asserts. "I know that in my heart of hearts, it's not appropriate behavior between a father and daughter."

"Is it inappropriate for a father to just scoop his daughter up, and hug her and hold her and pat her and love on her?"

"Absolutely. I think that's fine," Kitty replies. "But what I don't think is appropriate is some of the behavior that seems almost like a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship, or sleeping in the same bed. Even if she's scared, take the scary movies away. If they're R-rated and she's not mature enough, take away what's causing her to need to sleep with him."

Dr. Phil wants Kitty to re-examine her beliefs about James's relationship with his daughter. "Is it possible that you're viewing this through a jealousy filter? Is it possible that you've got a dog in this fight, and you resent his closeness and affection with his daughter?" he asks. 

"I've been told I don't have a dog in the fight because we're divorced," she replies. 

Dr. Phil is unconvinced. "That's not genuine. You guys are talking about the potential of reconciliation," he notes. "You do have some interest here. Is that not true?"

"My main interest is that there's nothing else going on, and that he just crosses the line, and maybe is a little bit too affectionate," Kitty makes clear. "That's what I'm here to ask you, how it looks to you."

"I think if you believe what you believe, you do not have a right, but you have a responsibility to bring it to the attention of the authorities," Dr. Phil reiterates. 

He turns to James. "I think you're a guy. I think guys can be really insensitive sometimes to delicate issues " issues of privacy, and issues of boundaries, and issues of separateness. I have absolutely not one shred of evidence to suggest to me that you are molesting your daughter. Now, do I see some bad judgment on your part? Yeah, you're a guy. You don't need to be sleeping with your daughter," Dr. Phil admonishes. "It's important for parents to create boundaries. I'm not saying to reject her " but you need to create boundaries where she understands issues of privacy and separateness. It may be that sexuality never comes to your mind, but you need to condition her. Not to be inhibited, not to be ashamed of herself or feel guilty for loving her dad, but you do need to construct some boundaries."

"If you want to lay this completely to rest, would you be willing to take a polygraph?" Dr. Phil asks James.


He replies, "Without a doubt."


"Would you be willing for your daughter to take a polygraph?" Dr. Phil inquires. 


"Would you be willing for her to be interviewed by a professional?"

When James answers in the affirmative, Dr. Phil says, "People who have nothing to hide, hide nothing." He turns to Kitty. "How do you feel about what I'm saying?"

"I feel great about it. That's what I wanted to hear," she answers. "I wanted the reassurance that maybe it is just a boundary problem, that it wasn't taken any further. I'm thrilled that that's what you think."
Dr. Phil urges James to be more sensitive toward his teen. "If you do that, then I think this situation will cure itself up," he tells the couple.