'Flipping Out' star Jeff Lewis "devastated" and "stunned" by surrogate mother's "insane" and "bogus" lawsuit claims
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 06/14/2018
Flipping Out stars Jeff Lewis and Gage Edward say they are "devastated" over news the surrogate they hired to birth their daughter has filed a lawsuit against them.
Alexandra Trent, the woman who delivered the couple's now 19-month-old daughter Monroe Christine, is suing Bravo, Authentic Entertainment, Jeff and Gage, claiming she never consented to having the birth filmed for Flipping Out and she's humiliated by the footage that aired last year.
"This is like a blow to the head. We are completely blindsided by this. We are just devastated. I thought we had a nice relationship, a friendship. We treated her like an extended member of the family. So you can imagine this is pretty stunning," Jeff, 48, toldPeople in a statement.
"And this is where I'm so upset. Because, on one hand, I don't want to tarnish this most amazing experience of my life. We couldn't be more grateful to this woman for birthing our child."
"We are indebted to her... we are so completely grateful to her, because without her, we wouldn't have Monroe. But on the other hand, these are fabricated claims and are completely bogus and without merit."
Alexandra is reportedly seeking damages for unlawful recording, invasion of privacy and fraud -- which Jeff said "smells to me like a financial shakedown."
According to court documents obtained by Us Weekly, Alexandra was "horrified" when she saw her "naked legs and blurred-out vagina" in the delivery room in an episode that aired in August 2017. Alexandra further claims she was humiliated by Jeff's "disgusting" comments on the show.
In the broadcast, Jeff reportedly joked, "If I was a surrogate and I had known that there was going to be an audience, I probably would have waxed. And that was the shocking part for Gage. I don't think Gage had ever seen a vagina, let alone one that big."
Jeff told People he recognizes such a comment was "a poor attempt at humor" and "an off-color joke," so he previously apologized to the surrogate and thought everything was great between them.
Alexandra first met Jeff and Gage thanks to a classified ad in 2015. She alleges she agreed to be the couple's surrogate with the understand and assurance by the pair, Bravo and the show's production company she "would not be a show subject."
Alexandra says she consented to filming ultrasound appointments to help promote the option of surrogacy, according to Us, but she had "made it explicitly clear... she did not want her reproductive organs filmed or broadcast, and/or did not want the birth filmed and/or broadcast."
Although she was allegedly promised the October 2016 birth would not be taped for Flipping Out, Alexandra says in the lawsuit cameras "surreptitiously filmed it from behind a curtain" without her knowledge.
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But Alexandra claims she did not find out about the episode until weeks after it aired, when a business associate informed her of the footage.
Jeff, however, insists her claim Flipping Out filmed the childbirth without her permission "is insanity."
"We were upfront and honest from the beginning, to the point where her appearance release was a part of the surrogacy agreement because the whole idea was to document this journey. It was part of her agreement, it was all tied in. So how do you now say that you didn't know you were being filmed? It's a broad appearance release!" Jeff told People.
Alexandra insists she was "deeply damaged" by the episode and has experienced "anguish, self-loathing, contempt and depression" as a result. She also reportedly claims Bravo refused to take down the clip from its website.
"Not only did she sign an appearance release as part of our surrogacy contract," Jeff continued, "I believe she signed it as a separate appearance release with the production company. And she signed a nondisclosure agreement, which she now violated. So what's the point of legal agreements if you're just going to disregard them all?"
Jeff added in his statement that Flipping Out "is not a hidden-camera show."
"There were moments where there were two, three, four cameras," he noted.
"Everybody was mic-ed. There was a boom, there was a producer. There were production assistants. I remember filming at lunch with her family, and that was a big crew there that day. So how do you now say you didn't know you were being filmed? It's unbelievable."
Jeff and Gage are looking forward to having more children in the near future, but there's apparently no shot they will work with Alexandra again.
"Shame on her for mudding such a beautiful experience," Jeff vented to People. "I personally believe she will have to answer to God one day for what she's done. And if I were her, I'd start drafting my apology now."
Flipping Out premiered on Bravo in July 2007. It was recently renewed for an eleventh season.