ABC News has issued a "statement" regarding a 20/20 segment on a Real Housewives of Orange County cast member that sure reads like a retraction or, at the very least, a strong correction.
The June 29 broadcast of the news magazine included an explosive interview with Nicolette Catanzarite, the ex-girlfriend of Brooks Ayers, who is the new love of Coto de Caza's Vicki Gunvalson.
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Gunvalson, who the Bravo TV series creator Andy Cohen nicknamed "The OG from the OC" because she is the only cast member who has lasted all seven seasons (and counting), is "in love with a Southern gentleman named Brooks, who splits his time between his home in Mississippi and his home away from home in Orange County," reads her Real Housewives bio. It continues:
Brooks is flattering, charming, and affectionate with Vicki . . .and she loves it all. But Vicki's two children--Michael, 25 and Briana, 24--are not happy about their mother's divorce and are even less happy that their mother has a new boyfriend.
Early on the kids refuse to meet Brooks, a man who they believe has a questionable past.
Some of that "questionable past" seemed to be exposed in the 20/20 segment, which had Catanzarite essentially outing Ayers, the father of her son, as a deadbeat dad.
"He has not supported his child," Catanzarite told ABC and a national audience. "He bailed on the hospital bill, the pediatrician bill, and left me with all of it."
The Carmel, Indiana, salon owner further claimed that Ayers disappeared after the birth of their son, and the next time she saw him he was on the television, on the reality show.
Catanzarite later had Ayers tracked down and arrested for failing to pay child support, she has claimed.
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In July, a month after the piece aired, Ayers told the media he was suing ABC over the "false" report.
Tuesday, ABC issued the following:
Statement about Brooks Ayers of 'Real Housewives of Orange County'
This is a follow-up to a 20/20 report broadcast June 29, 2012 concerning Brooks Ayers of "Real Housewives of Orange County."
The report said, among other things, that Ayers had left his former girlfriend Nicolette Catanzarite with unpaid medical bills relating to the birth of their son Joey in December 2008, that Ayers had not visited or communicated with Joey since he was 5 or 6 months old, and that Catanzarite had been unable to locate Ayers until he was first referred to on "Real Housewives" in 2011.
We want to clarify that Ayers' insurance paid for most of Joey's medical expenses arising from the birth, although not Catanzarite's; that Ayers provided rent money and certain other expenses to Catanzarite for a time after Joey was born; and that Ayers saw Joey a number of times after their break-up in May 2009, the last being July or August 2010 when Joey was 19 or 20 months old. We also wanted to clarify that Ayers and Catanzarite have communicated periodically since that time, and that when Catanzarite was in California in January 2012, she met with Ayers and his girlfriend.
In a statement to ABC, Ayers says that he "hopes to resolve his disputes with Nicolette soon."