SYRACUSE -- After appearing on the syndicated television show Dr. Phil, a couple from Missouri is suing the show and a Syracuse youth treatment center for the alleged mistreatment of their daughter.
Terri and Davis Myers filed the federal lawsuit Monday against the Dr. Phil Organization, CRC Health Group, Aspen Educational Group, Bain Capital and Island View Academy.
The lawsuit says the Myerses were invited to appear on the show with their 15-year-old daughter, who supposedly had been having sex with adult men she met online.
The suit argues that the Myerses and their daughter were berated by Dr. Phil McGraw on the episode titled "Young, Online and Out of Control," which aired Feb. 23, 2013.
"In spite of seeking professional help from Dr. Phil, he had no empathy for SM (the daughter), just condemnation of her parents for not exercising more control, and contempt for SM's bizarre and dangerous conduct," the suit says.
In the episode, Dr. Phil blasted the couple for failing their daughter by "a country mile."
Dr. Phil then offered to pay for the girl to stay at Island View Academy in Syracuse.
The suit says the Utah facility offered no real psychological help for the girl and only punishment for disobedience. The suit calls the facility a "private prison."
On one occasion, the suit alleges, the girl was badly injured after the facility's workers forcibly tried to remove her from her room. The Myerses' attorney, Thomas Burton, said the girl's arm has been permanently damaged.
The suit is seeking damages on claims of false imprisonment, negligence-personal Injury, conspiracy, fraudulent concealment and other claims. The suit does not indicate a dollar amount of damages sought.
Burton said facilities like Island View Academy are plentiful in Utah and are akin to private prisons.
"Parents pay enormous funds to get what they expect is really good treatment; instead they get minimal results and abuse," Burton said.
Burton said this lawsuit and others aim to expose the "racket" that he claims the behavioral modification centers are involved in.
Vice president of marketing for CRC, Jon Ciampi, said the company would not comment on any specific patient, but said they take the allegations very seriously.
"We deny any wrongdoing being reported in the media," Ciampi said.
According to its website, Island View Academy is a co-ed residential treatment center that focuses primarily on the positive and healthy development of troubled adolescents.
The academy is operated by CRC Health Group and owned by Aspen Educational Group and Bain Capital.
A math teacher for the academy who was supposedly part of the abuse is also named in the suit.
Contact reporter Andreas Rivera at 801-625-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SE_Andreas.