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Dr. Phil Questions Child Sex Abuse Allegations on Daytime TV

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By George Khoury, Esq. on July 24, 2018 3:58 PM

A recent story in the ABA Journal about a Dr. Phil episode raises some rather interesting questions about just what "Dr." Phil is doing on his daytime TV talk show.

It seems he may have ventured off the usual entertainment-therapy route and started to get into dissecting the veracity of live allegations of child sexual abuse. However, as pointed out in the ABA Journal piece, Dr. Phil does a much better job than you might expect (as a prosecutor, that is), which probably shatters some expectations.

Dr. Phil as Prosecutor

In short, the episode dissects the allegations of sexual abuse that a mother claims her 3-year-old daughter made against the girl's father.

Interestingly, when you watch the clips of the episode, it's hard to not get the sense that Dr. Phil is prosecuting the mother. He consistently comes back to the fact that the mother did not report the allegations to the police immediately, and to the even bigger mistake of failing to take her daughter to the hospital immediately after hearing the allegations. He also seems hung up on the fact that when the doctor did exam the toddler, a week after the alleged incident, the doctor found no evidence of abuse to trigger a mandatory report.

Dr. Phil as Judge or Executioner?

Dr. Phil's role as an entertainment counselor puts him in a similar position to that of a judge in a TV court of law, except Dr. Phil is no Judge Judy. His cases aren't legal. His judgments aren't final. But like Judge Judy, he can't put anyone in jail. But what Dr. Phil can do is state his "professional opinion" and try to inspire drama for ratings. Despite the recent tide of the #MeToo movement, the producers of this episode just don't seem to get that glorifying the process of victim blaming and shaming, even if the alleged victim is lying, might be something to avoid.

Dr. Phil even goes so far as to question the mother's capability to mother due to the delays in seeking medical care and reporting to the police.

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