Wrongly Accused

Wrongly Accused
Dr. Phil talks individuals who say they were wrongly accused of crimes.

In 1998, Tom and Lynn began to build their dream home. "I was excited," says Lynn.
Two weeks later, she got sick. "I thought I had food poisoning," she says. "I started throwing up. The doctors couldn't find out what was wrong."

On her sixth visit to the doctor, she was told she was being poisoned with arsenic. The hospital notified the police department.

"The police were convinced that I was trying to kill my wife," says Tom.

The FBI took hair samples from both Lynn and Tom. Test results showed that both of them were exposed to arsenic — and that the source was likely treated lumber, which they were using to build their home.

The allegations have been investigated several times over the last few years. David and Destiny have been cleared of wrongdoing.

In the process however, they had to borrow money from relatives to cover their more than $53,000 in legal fees.

"What is this doing to the two of you and your marriage?" asks Dr. Phil.

"What marriage?" asks Destiny. "It's absolutely awful. It has devastated me. I was seven-and-a-half months pregnant when this happened. I almost died giving birth to my daughter. And I wanted to die at that point. I didn't want to go on. And every day I feel like I die a little more because this continues. The most awful thing you can be accused of is harming a child."

"I want people to know that when you make accusations and spread lies and gossip, somebody has to pay for that," says Dr. Phil. "It comes home to the two of you on a day-to-day basis...This is guilt by accusation. You know you didn't do these things to the child, but people are saying you did."

A grand jury dismissed the attempted murder case, but the effects of being wrongly accused still linger. "I have been extremely depressed," says Tom. "I think about it constantly. There are still people who believe I tried to kill my wife. My reputation is basically shot."

Lynn asks, "Dr. Phil, what is the best way for me to help my husband cope? I'm all he has. And I want to help him."

"What does it feel like to walk into a room and know that people are saying, 'That's the guy that tried to kill his wife'?" asks Dr. Phil.

"It basically tears your heart out," explains Tom. "I grew up in that small town. A lot of people talk. I walk in a room and I can feel the pointing and talking."

"What would you like to see happen to give you some peace of mind and give you your life back?" asks Dr. Phil.

"I would like the city and police department to come forth and say that my husband did not try to murder me," says Lynn. "I want everyone to recognize what the FBI came up with — that it was the treated lumber."

"I can relate to this," says Dr. Phil. "When you make the decision to move into public life, it's like you put a target on your chest. I'm a big proponent of freedom of speech, but it comes with a responsibility. I remember after I'd been on TV a few years and walked into the grocery store and saw [myself on] one of those rags for the first time. I've been accused of everything — from taking romantic walks on the farm with Oprah to the Irish potato famine."

"The criteria has nothing to do with whether it's true or not," explains Dr. Phil. "When you're in public life, it's about whether your face and name sell newspapers or not. I had to make a decision. If I was going to step into this public arena, I was going to keep my power and know the truth, or give it away. Because they're going to talk about you! My dad used to say, 'The better job you do in this world, the more you come under attack from the dark forces of the universe.' I told my wife, 'Boy I must be doing a hell of a job!'"

David and Destiny met in 1999. One month later, they were engaged. Prior to this, David had been married for 10 years. He has two small children from his previous relationship.

When Destiny was seven-and-a-half months pregnant, the police called David and Destiny to discuss allegations of abuse at their house.

"When I read the police report, I couldn't believe it," says David. "It was almost like my children were coached to say these horrible things."

"The report said that I was putting balls and knives in my stepdaughters vagina," says Destiny. "I almost passed out. I felt devastated, emotionally raped. The next night my husband answered the phone and got served a verbal subpoena, suspending his visitation with his children. In the mail we got a letter from the National Child Abuse Registry Index saying my husband's name was placed on this list."