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'Real Housewives' husband: 'They're just going to crucify me'

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Armstrong 'distraught' over reality show
  • Russell Armstrong's mother says show "slowly destroy" her son's marriage
  • Armstrong appears to have hanged himself Monday, police say
  • He and reality show cast member Taylor Armstrong were divorcing

(CNN) -- Russell Armstrong complained before his apparent suicide that his estranged wife's reality show was going to "crucify" him in its upcoming season, his mother said Wednesday.

John Ann Hotchkiss said Armstrong and his wife Taylor, a cast member on Bravo's "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," had been happy before they agreed to join the reality show. Once it aired, "I watched it slowly destroy their marriage," she told HLN's "Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell."

"Before the new season even started, before he took his life, he said, 'Mom, they're just going to crucify me this season,' " Hotchkiss said. "He said, 'I don't know what to do. I'll never survive it.' I thought he meant businesswise or something," Hotchkiss said. "Perhaps there was a double meaning there. I don't know."

Russell Armstrong was found dead at a home in the hills above the Los Angeles suburb of Bel Air on Monday, police said. His wife had filed for divorce in July, telling People magazine that she was verbally and physically abused during their nearly six-year marriage.

Hotchkiss said her son was upset by the criticism of other cast members and complained that "All the network cares about are ratings."

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"I know it hurt him deeply, because he would talk to me about it -- never criticizing Taylor, of course," she said. "I know it brought him down."

Bravo did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday. In a statement posted on the network's website, Executive Vice President Andy Cohen said the network was "still trying to process yesterday's very sad news" and trying to figure out what to do with the upcoming season of the show, which had been set to premiere September 5.

Armstrong's lawyer, Ronald Richards, said the allegations of verbal and physical abuse stemmed from "drunk arguments" between the couple. Meanwhile, Armstrong was financially drained, had been defending himself against a multimillion-dollar lawsuit and his credit cards had been suspended -- all pressures Richards said were made worse by the show.

"He takes a lot of time, doing a lot of events for the show, and he starts supporting an increasingly more expensive lifestyle," Richards told HLN. "So he ends up being in a very vulnerable position financially, because he's totally distracted now, supporting the show. And then these constant press reports about negative things about him hurt his capital business."

Richards said the couple should be edited out of the upcoming show, "and he should rest in peace."

Watch ISSUES with Jane Velez-Mitchell Monday through Sunday at 7pm ET on HLN. For the latest from ISSUES click here.