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.
Her attorney said she had nothing to do with the reports about Russell Armstrong, who was found dead Monday after hanging himself.
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Attorneys for both Russell and Taylor Armstrong cast doubt on the first of the anonymously sourced reports. The New York Post story 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."
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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.
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There was also confusion Friday over Russell Armstrong's funeral. Early in the day, Richards complained that Taylor Armstrong had not told her husband's family about funeral arrangements. But Richards said late Friday that at some point she shared the information with a relative — after his public complaints that she had not been forthcoming with it.
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Christiansen said Taylor had told him she planned a small ceremony for family and friends.
Asked how his client his 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 Armstrong's family was upset with Taylor Armstrong as well — and became extremely frustrated as they waited for word on his funeral arrangements.
"His sister specifically said Taylor can go to hell," Richards said. "They're past the mad point."