It’s always sad when people resort to public humiliation in order to get revenge on their spouses, regardless of whether the other spouse “deserves” it. And in the age of reality TV and amateur home video, it’s no surprise that someone would use the popular video-sharing website YouTube.com to lash out during their divorce.
British playwright and former actor Tricia Walsh-Smith sunk divorce tactics to a new low on April 10, when she posted a home-made video on YouTube featuring herself trashing her husband, multiple-Broadway-theater owner Philip Smith. The six-minute video, titled Poor, Vulnerable Tricia: One More Crazy Day in the Life of a Phoenix Rising from the Ashes, features an angry and tearful Walsh-Smith in the couple’s Park Avenue apartment, complaining that Smith wants to evict her from the pad (because of a clause in their prenuptial agreement) and insulting some of his relatives. She then reveals candid claims about their sex life and then phones Smith’s office assistant to ask what she should do with his Viagra, condoms, and pornography collection.
The video has received well over 285,000 hits as of April 16.
New York State does not have “no fault” grounds for divorce, which is a possible motivation for Walsh-Smith’s actions. (Click here for more details on the grounds for divorce in New York.)
High-profile New York divorce attorney Raoul Felder is currently representing Walsh-Smith, 49, although she had shot the video before Felder took her case. Felder admitted to the Associated Press that he thought the video was funny. “But there’s also sadness,” he added. “This is a victim who is holding her head up. I think she comes off well.”
Felder also told AP that Walsh-Smith had been “acting out of passion” and that “revolutions are made by powerless people” such as her. He also called the Smiths’ prenuptial agreement “stupid”, saying, “Why do women sign these things? Love is blind, and sometimes it is deaf and dumb, too.”
Not everybody in the New York legal community shares Felder’s sympathy for Walsh-Smith. AP also quoted well-reputed family lawyer Bonnie Rabin, who said, “This is an absolutely new step, and I think it’s scary. People used to worry about getting on [the New York Post‘s gossip page]. But this? It brings the concept of humiliation to a whole new level.” Rabin added, “Judges make decisions partly on [a party’s] judgment. She could hurt herself with this.”
“I don’t think it’s the kind of thing people should be doing,” Norman Sheresky, a partner with law firm Sheresky Aronson Mayesfsky & Sloan, told AP, “and it’s the kind of thing judges frown upon.” He added that this was the first time he’s ever seen a divorce taken to YouTube.
As for Smith’s side, People quoted a source close to the Smiths who said, “Phil is a very decent and nice guy who doesn’t deserve any of this.” The source also said that Walsh-Smith “has always been kind of fun, but this is out of control.” Smith’s attorneys had no comment other than to say they were appalled.
Philip Smith, 74, is the president of the Shubert Organization, which owns 17 Broadway theaters in New York City as well as the National Theater in Washington, DC.
Walsh-Smith currently does charity work, raising money to help drug addicts and Iraq-war vets. Her credits include the 1978 movie Terror and the 1986 TV drama The Best Years of Your Life.
Plays she has written include the appropriately titled Bonkers.
Let’s hope that this doesn’t become a trend. With the increasing acceptance of mediation and collaborative law as alternative, non-adversarial methods of resolving divorce, the last thing we need is a YouTube generation taking the low road and moving divorce a few steps back. Click here for a Houston divorce lawyer’s take on vengeance and retribution.
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