On Wednesday's episode of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," Erika Girardi adamantly defended herself against the allegations that she was embezzling money and that her divorce from estranged husband Tom Girardi was a sham to protect assets.
In the new episode, which was filmed in December 2020, the cast learned that a lawsuit was filed in the Northern District of Illinois by law firm Edelson PC, suing Erika Girardi, also known as Erika Jayne, and her estranged husband. The suit alleged that Tom Girardi and his law firm, Girardi Keese, embezzled millions of dollars that were intended to go to the surviving relatives of the Lion Air 610 plane crash.
The suit characterized the high-profile couple as being obsessed with maintaining their celebrity status and projecting "a public image of obscene wealth at all time, and at whatever the cost."
"As a result, and most egregiously, Tom has resorted to embezzling the proceeds of settlements that should have been directed to his clients — including, as the basis for this complaint, the widows and orphans who lost loved ones in the tragic crash of Lion Air Flight 610 — in order to continue funding his and Erika's lavish Beverly Hills lifestyles," the lawsuit said, in part.
"People think that Erika Jayne brought down Tom Girardi," Jayne, 50, said during a confessional interview on Wednesday's episode. "Tom Girardi brought down Tom Girardi. I don't want his actions to absolutely kill what I have created. I fear starting over. The only thing I have is my name, and the hope that this is not where it ends for me."
"That's the punch in the gut"
On the new episode of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," Jayne's castmates found out about the lawsuit when the rest of the world did, on Dec. 2, 2020. On that day, they were in the middle of a quarantine, after a few cast members tested positive for COVID-19.
"There's news reports coming out that are alleging that Tom embezzled this money from victims of this plane crash, and to see Erika's name involved in it is shocking," Lisa Rinna said during an interview.
"Seeing these headlines makes you cringe," Dorit Kemsley said. "Some of these victims, they're widows, orphans... that's the punch in the gut."
Garcelle Beauvais said, "You just can't imagine this is somebody you know or you spend time with and this is possible."
"I have no idea whether this is true or not," Kyle Richards added. "But you have to be able to keep an open mind and say, 'Innocent until proven guilty,' because I'm going based on the person that I know."
During a Zoom conversation between Jayne, Rinna and Richards, the three woman discussed the fallout from the lawsuit, and what the future has in store for the embattled reality star.
"This sucks so bad," Jayne said while sitting on her bed in sweats. "Things that are being said are just wrong. People are believing them and they're everywhere and it's terrible and I'm just here by myself, and what's being said is just mean. It's insane that my divorce is a sham but nobody cares about the facts."
"Divorce is very painful, and then having it called a sham is even more painful," Jayne explained during an interview with a producer. "It took a lot of courage to leave, and it took two seconds for some asshole to say it was a sham and everybody to believe that."
When asked by the producer when she found out about the lawsuit, Jayne refused to answer.
"I don't know what happens from here, some very bad things could happen," she said to Rinna and Richards, later adding, "I got more lawyers than I f---ing can afford."
"When I filed this divorce, I was a gold digger," she also said to them. "This week, you're a conspirator. I mean... neither one of them are true."
"To be out here on your own and to have like millions of dollars worth of lawsuits pointed at you is heavy, and to know that the person that got you here has been like (claps hands)," she explained during another confessional. "You're like, what the f--- am I gonna do?"
On going through this trying time amid a quarantine," Jayne told Rinna and Richards, "It's depressing," adding, "It gives me like really high anxiety."
"We are here for you, Erika," Rinna said assuring her. "We know who you are. You are a good person."
Breaking down in tears, Jayne cried, "I didn't do this."
"We know you didn't do it, Erika," Rinna said to her. "We know that this is not who you are. You would not do this."
During confessional interviews and other scenes on Wednesday night's episode of the Bravo reality show, Jayne's castmates question the allegations that continue to mount against her and her estranged husband, while also sticking up for their friend.
"One of the reasons I don't think this divorce is a sham is maybe Erika, once she found out these lawsuits were coming, decided I'm not staying around for this and decided I'm gonna get out of here," Richards said.
"Maybe Tom did these things, but I don't think Erika knew about," Beauvais added. "One thing that I do know is that husbands can have secrets that wives don't know about."
"Ask them to help you bury a body..."
At the end of the episode, Jayne and Richards meet for a walk in the woods, when Jayne has an intense emotional break down.
"Oh my God, Erika, I have never seen you like this," Richards said, beginning to cry herself. "What is going on?"
"This is so hard to do," Jayne responded. "What is happening is so hard. I've never been this overwhelmed and in a place where my hands are literally tied. I could never have predicted this f---ing s---. Ever."
"There's nothing I can do except wait to tell my side of the story," she added. "And the feeling of just not knowing, and then these huge things being alleged, and just having to defend yourself. It's just a lonely, lonely place to be because God, Kyle, my divorce is not a sham."
"Nobody wants to be in the position I'm in right now," she continued. "It is really unenviable being the possible target of a federal criminal investigation. (It's) not cool to have all those things said about you, which are not true. And then to have everyone basically question everything. It's lonely and it's quiet. You would be shocked at how quickly people turn on you. How quickly people distance themselves from you. Automatically they turn because they don't want to be involved. They were there when it was good, though."
"Want to know who your friends are, go broke," she said during a confessional interview. "Want to know who your friends are, go to jail. Want to know who your friends are, ask them to help you bury a body... I don't know. You'll find out who's there for you."
TODAY reached out to Jayne for further comment or for a statement after Wednesday's episode, but has not yet heard back.
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