Dr. Phil ran a health club scam in the 70s

Star Magazine has a huge article on Dr. Phil McGraw and the less than ethical way he’s conducted himself during his career. There are allegations of sexual abuse from a patient and a former employee who said that she was sexually fondled by Dr. when she working as a 19 year-old intern in his biofeedback lab in 1984. She said he “he’d reach into my blouse and touch by breasts. He liked to rub my legs. He loved to rub my pelvic bone.” Dr. Phil calls the allegations false and said “it was fully investigated and dismissed,” but that’s not true because Star notes that the Texas State Board issued a reprimand to Dr. Phil in 1999, a year after the complaint was filed, for an “inappropriate dual relationship” with a patient and that his practice was put on probation for 12 months. He left the practice less than a year later and moved to Dallas.

And back in the 1970s Dr. Phil ditched another business when his questionable financial handling came to light. He had a heath spa in Topeka, Kansas that he abruptly closed after he was investigated by the Attorney General’s office for fraud. He still owes tens of thousands to area banks and has never paid a penny:

In September 1973, barely two years after opening the Grecian Health Spa in Topeka, McGraw suddenly shut it down and fled to Wichita Falls, Texas, where his father, psychologist Joseph McGraw, had a private practice.

Why the sudden flight? Possible because McGraw had become the object of an intense fraud investigation by the Attorney General’s office in Topeka!

“McGraw had been pulling off a textbook example of a membership scam,” says Emery Goad, who worked on the case as lead investigator with the Attorney General’s office after it had received numerous complaints against the spa.

“He was signing up hundreds of customers to long, expensive contracts, then turning around and selling the contracts to a financial institution for a percentage of the total value up front in cash.

“He then simply shut down the spa at some point after collecting that money and left town. It was a total rip-off because the customers would still be liable for the contract payments, only now to the financial institution…”

Court papers also reveal that between September 1973 and June 1974, McGraw was sued by three different Topeka banks for $41,000 they claimed he owed.

The three banks managed to have summons served on him in Texas – but McGraw never put in a court appearance in Topeka for any of the three lawsuits and did not pay back a penny.

“It was probably by design that he went back to Texas,” says Goad. “At that time, Texas was one of only two states in the Union where you couldn’t collect on out-of-state judgments.”

[From Star Magazine, print edition, February 4, 2008]

Dr. Phil is 57 and was just 23 in 1973 when he got nabbed for running that health club scam, and he may have been in over his head. 23 seems old enough to know better, though. There are all sorts of stories that Dr. Phil, who only half-apologized for the Britney debacle, is about to get the boot from his show by Oprah Winfrey, who runs the Harpo production company responsible for inflicting us with his down-home brand of trite advice. Now that more news has come out about what a stand up guy he is, we can only hope that Oprah puts her well-heeled foot down on his big ‘ol head.

Dr. Phil and Robin McGraw are shown on 6/15/07 at the Daytime Emmy Awards, thanks to PRPhotos.

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