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Sunday, June 23, 2024 | Back issues
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‘Dance Moms’ Called Hollywood Horror Story

LOS ANGELES (CN) - A former actress on the "Dance Moms" reality show claims in court that she was charged with assaulting the show's star Abby Lee Miller - but it was because Miller tried to bite her first.

Kelly Hyland makes some alarming allegations against Abigail Lee Miller and the show's production company Collins Avenue Entertainment in a Superior Court complaint. She claims the Lifetime TV show violates child labor laws and emotionally abuses children who appear on it.

Lifetime is not a party to the lawsuit.

The altercation between Miller and Hyland was televised on Lifetime last week. "Dance Moms" follows the Pittsburgh-based choreographer as she puts child dancers through their paces and prepares them for competition.

Hyland's daughters Brooke, 16, and Paige, 13 were cast members. Hyland claims the demands Miller made on her daughters were so great that the only reason she did not quit the show earlier was because Miller had threatened legal action.

Miller's bullying style damaged her children's well-being, according to the Hyland. She claims that Miller once threw a chair at Paige, who became so troubled that her school work suffered and she was sent to see school counselors.

Hyland claims the show's producers did nothing to tame Miller, but went out of their way to foster conflict between the chief choreographer and parents.

"Indeed, the producers regularly took steps to cause conflict between the cast members, in particular the various moms and Miller, so that heated arguments would ensue and the conflicts could be recorded for dramatic television purposes to attract viewers each week," the lawsuit states.

Things came to head on Nov. 22, 2013, Hyland says, after she and her daughters traveled to New Jersey to prepare for a dance competition in the Bronx.

Hyland claims that after a lunch break, Miller came to rehearsal, screamed at Brooke and told her to "grow up and speak for herself."

Hyland says she told Miller to "shut up" and announced that her family was quitting the show.

As she tried to leave, Miller stepped in front of Hyland, the mom claims. She says she was "accosted and assaulted" as Miller moved toward her "gnashing her teeth loudly."

"Ultimately, as Miller continued to lunge toward her gnashing her teeth and trying to bite Kelly Hyland, Hyland became aware that she was about to either fall over or be bitten by Miller. At that moment she, in self-defense, slapped Miller and pulled Miller's head away from her to avoid being bitten. As a result of this altercation Miller called the police. Hyland was willing to stay on the scene and intended to remain there to explain her side of events to the officers who arrived," the lawsuit states.

But Hyland says producers insisted that she leave, though she wanted to explain to the authorities her version of what had gone down.

"The producers of the television program actually encouraged Hyland and her daughters to leave the scene of the altercation and leave the state with the police in the process of coming to the scene," the complaint states. "Plaintiff Kelly Hyland is informed and believes that the producers of the show desired for her to have a warrant issued for her arrest as that would make for intensely dramatic television."

Hyland says she resisted the producers' demands, and was arrested and charged with assault and released without bail.

At her arraignment, Hyland claims, Miller was stationed outside the courtroom, where TMZ and Lifetime rolled cameras as the choreographer heckled Hyland.

"Miller defamed Kelly Hyland by accusing her of being an unfit mother and endangering the safety and well-being of her own daughters," the complaint states.

Miller allegedly repeated the claims during appearances on the chat show "The View." The star claimed that Hyland is an alcoholic, and that during the alleged attack Hyland had pulled out clumps of her hair and left bruises on the star's face, according to the lawsuit.

Hyland claims in the lawsuit that the show's producers tried to lure her to film public confrontations with Miller even though the court issued a temporary restraining order that forbids her from going near the choreographer.

Despite calls for her to reappear on the show, Hyland says, the show's producers did not pay her wages for season four episodes, nor bonuses and a babysitting allowance. She also claims that the production damaged a floor at her home, costing her $21,000 in damages.

Hyland claims the show's producers make children wear "skimpy" outfits and perform explicit dance routines.

During one such routine Miller "even directed the girls to gesture to their breasts and crotch areas in a suggestive manner," the lawsuit states.

She claims that a choreographer who worked on the show "was later arrested on numerous charges of child sexual assault and possession of child pornography following his engagement with the show."

She seeks $5 million in damages for assault, defamation, breach of contract and six other counts. Brooke Hyland and Paige Hyland are parties to their mom's complaint.

The family is represented by Michael Shapiro.

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