Hannah Archuleta appeared on the Dr. Phil show in October 2019. She was 17 years old. At the time, she was suffering from suicidal thoughts. Dr. Phil, who is not licensed to practice psychology, and his team at ViacomCBS, recommended that her parents send her to Turn-About Ranch. The ranch claims it’s a place where they rehabilitate “troubled-teens”. The television host has sent multiple teens to the ranch over the years, despite a history of allegations and a 2016 murder at the ranch. Hannah Archuleta now alleges that she was groped twice during her weeks on the ranch and then punished when she reported the alleged sexual assault. She is now suing Phil McGraw and ViacomCBS for negligence. The lawsuit is seeking damages for “physical sickness, emotional distress, humiliation” and lost wages.
The lawsuit alleges that the Archuleta family was taken backstage on the day they were filming the Dr. Phil episode. It claims that they were then pressured to sign papers to send Hannah Archuleta to the ranch as soon as possible “to have any chance at a good life”. Under that pressure, her father signed the papers. Her mother, who had a terminal illness, reportedly had a panic attack. The lawsuit also alleges that during this time, the team behind the CBS show promised that they offered to arrange medical care and help for Heather Archuleta, the teen’s terminally ill mother. The suit claims that help never came. The teen’s mother has since died.
While the family has filed this suit against the productions behind Dr. Phil, they have also filed a separate suit against the ranch itself. Victims attorney Gloria Allred has helped the family file the lawsuit, which also alleges that there may be a financial or other incentive for the show to continue sending teens from the show to the same ranch. It wasn’t disclosed what evidence they have to back that claim up. ViacomCBS has declined to make comments, but a representative for Phil McGraw has said that they will be “vigorously” fighting these claims.
The show has faced a number of controversies and accusations over the years. There are the teens who’ve been sent to Turn-Around Ranch. There are the times Dr. Phil’s tweets have been called into question. The show frequently has people suffering from addiction and alcoholism on the show, and there have been claims that the show provided alcohol and drugs to addicts. More recently, the show’s host has been vocal about COVID-19 and has been accused of spreading misinformation.
While many have called for Dr. Phil to be cancelled over the years, cancel culture hasn’t come for the television host. The American television personality got his start with fame via Oprah Winfrey. While he does hold a doctorate degree, he stopped renewing his license to practice psychology in 2006. He began appearing on Oprah Winfrey’s talk show in the late 1990s. She reportedly helped him get his own show, Dr. Phil, which began airing in 2002. There have since been multiple spinoff programs.