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Lawyers: Tyra Banks' show exploited self-described teen sex addict

By the CNN Wire Staff
The mother of a teen girl who appeared on Tyra Banks' show in October 2009 has filed a $3 million lawsuit.
The mother of a teen girl who appeared on Tyra Banks' show in October 2009 has filed a $3 million lawsuit.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Lawyers say "The Tyra Show" was "reckless" in letting a teenage girl on the show
  • The girl appeared on the show describing her struggles with sex-addiction
  • Lawyers say girl forged a signature on a parental consent form
  • The girl's mother, Beverly McClendon, is suing "The Tyra Show" for $3 million
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(CNN) -- Lawyers for the mother of a 15-year-old girl suing "The Tyra Show" lambasted the show's producers Tuesday as "reckless" for letting her child appear as a self-described sex addict.

The girl's mother, Beverly McClendon, filed a lawsuit earlier this month in U.S. District Court in Atlanta, Georgia. Her suit contends the show never got valid written consent and an employment certificate, which must be obtained in Georgia before a minor can be "employed as a performer in a television production ... [and] the minor will not be used for pornographic purposes."

McClendon's lawyers said Tuesday the consent form that "The Tyra Show" received was clearly forged by the daughter, Jewel Ciera Washington. After being contacted by Washington, the show's staff called her cell phone and arranged for her to fly from Atlanta to New York and appear on the now-defunct program. Its last air date was May 28.

"You had an infatuated child who would do anything," attorney George Lawson told HLN's Jean Velez-Mitchell, explaining that the teenager doctored the consent form because she admired and wanted to meet Tyra Banks, the longtime model and TV personality.

The lawsuit, which seeks $3 million, contends that "The Tyra Show" used Washington's appearance to further its main goal of boosting ratings and, thus, bringing in advertising revenue.

On the show, which aired in October 2009, Washington claimed she lost her virginity at 9 and had gotten pregnant three times -- claims that she now says weren't true, according to her lawyers.

"It's like I'm trapped in a dark place with no light shining down, like I'm a prisoner," Washington said on the TV show. "I know that I need help for this. ... I know it for a fact," she added.

Attorney Wanda Jackson said that by publicizing Washington's alleged struggles with sex addiction, the program publicly exploited a teenage girl who confessed to having a serious problem. And it did so, she claims, without properly finding out whether the minor had her parent's permission to appear.

"It's dangerous," said Jackson, who is representing McClendon with Lawson. "If you thought she had that kind of problem, why would you put her on television?"

The defendants have not answered the complaint. No court date has been set.

Scott Rowe, senior vice president of worldwide communications for Warner Bros. Television Group, declined to comment last week to CNN Entertainment.

Warner Bros. Entertainment, one of the defendants in McClendon's lawsuit, is a division of Time Warner, which is the parent company of CNN.

In Session's Adam Blank contributed to this report.