Saturday, August 20, 2011

{alltv} Russell Armstrong's lawyer lashes out at smear campaign

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NEW YORK ( - The third stage of reality show grieving -- after shock and a vague disappointment in all of humanity -- turns out to be ugly, anonymously sourced reports about the deceased.

It took less than a week to reach that stage Friday, as Russell Armstrong's attorney accused his estranged wife's team of a "posthumous smear campaign." He was responding to two reports, one claiming Armstrong was secretly gay and another alleging he brutally beat "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" star Taylor Armstrong.

Taylor Armstrong's attorney Ronald Richards said she had nothing to do with the placing of the reports. The two lawyers also split over whether Taylor Armstrong, who is currently planning her former husband's funeral, has notified his relatives about the arrangements. Russell Armstrong was found dead Monday after hanging himself.

Both attorneys cast doubt on the first of the anonymously sourced reports: one by the New York Post that cited a Bravo insider who alleged that Armstrong had a secret "kinky, gay sex life."

"I never heard anything that had anything to do with those allegations at all from my client. Never," said Troy Christiansen, Taylor Armstrong's lawyer. Taylor Armstrong filed for divorce last month.

The second report, from TMZ, said Armstrong once beat Taylor Armstrong so badly that he cracked bones in her cheeks. When Taylor Armstrong confided in co-star Camille Grammer, Armstrong sent her a threatening email, TMZ reported, citing "multiple sources connected to the show."

Richards questioned why Taylor Armstrong never filed a police report or mentioned alleged abuse in her divorce papers. Christiansen said it wasn't necessary because she wasn't seeking a restraining order and because the former couple had already agreed on custody. Christiansen said Taylor was to have primary physical custody of their 5-year-old daughter, while Russell would get visitation.

Christiansen also said his client would release a statement soon on the subject of physical abuse. In an interview with People last month, Taylor Armstrong alleged that her husband abused her, and he conceded that he had pushed her -- "during a time in our lives that was not characteristic of who we were," he said.

There's also confusion over his funeral. Richards says that Taylor Armstrong has not told Russell's family about funeral arrangements.

"They're shutting out my client's mother, father and sister from attending the funeral and failing to provide any of the information so they can make arrangements to travel there," he said. "Maybe they're going to film it or something -- something really disgusting and perverse."

Christiansen said Taylor Armstrong told him that she had in fact notified Russell's family about the arrangements, but the attorney said he did not know the details personally.

He also said Taylor had told him she planned a small ceremony for family and friends, which was to be private and not to be recorded for the show.

Asked how his client was coping, Christiansen said: "She's actually not doing very well. She's devastated still. And quite upset about Ron Richards continuing to represent that he has a client."

Under California law, Christiansen said, an attorney ceases to represent a client when that client dies.

Richards said Russell's family was upset with Taylor as well -- and denied she had contacted them.

"His sister specifically said Taylor can go to hell," Richards said. "They're past the mad point."

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