Bethenny Frankel and Jason Hoppy’s tumultuous relationship took a dark turn in January, when he was arrested on stalking and harassment charges after allegedly threatening the Skinnygirl mogul at their daughter’s school.
But although the drama was playing out in the media at the time, Frankel, 46, kept much of the battle private from her Real Housewives of New York City cast — until Wednesday’s episode, that is, when Frankel’s BFF Carole Radziwill opened up about her friend’s struggles to costar Dorinda Medley.
The conversation was prompted by Hoppy’s arrest, news of which had just hit the press as the cast filmed their ski mountain getaway in Vermont.
“Something major happened this weekend with [Hoppy],” Radziwill told Medley while scrolling through her phone. “I can’t believe it’s in [the press] though. She’s going to die. She won’t admit this, but she’s a little more sensitive. It’s pretty major, and it’s a game-changer.”
Radziwill then read the news of Hoppy’s arrest — prompting Medley to ask, “Has he lost his mind? No wonder she’s so upset.”
As PEOPLE reported at the time, Hoppy, 46, had sent numerous emails and FaceTime calls numbering in the hundreds after a cease and desist letter was sent on Nov. 22, 2016.
On Friday, Jan. 27, he then approached Frankel and a friend at 6-year-old Bryn’s school at around 8:15 a.m., and tried to provoke a fight, saying, ” ‘I will destroy you, you can get all the lawyers you want, you’ve been warned,’ ” an NYPD spokesperson told PEOPLE. Hours later, Hoppy was arrested and charged with harassment in the first degree and stalking in the fourth degree. A restraining order against him was also issued by a judge at his arraignment.
In June, Hoppy was arraigned on additional charges — including one count of stalking in the third degree, another count of stalking in the fourth degree and some additional conduct. He has denied all charges and even rejected a plea offer in March. The case has been adjourned to Aug. 8 for a decision on motions.
Taking it all in on Wednesday’s episode, Radziwill praised Frankel for being strong during their long divorce — but told Medley that Frankel’s strength and appearance of calm can often be misinterpreted.
“She’s not as tough as she appears. She’s been in a really ugly relationship with her ex for years,” Radziwill said. “What he’s doing is not just annoying her. It’s systematic harassing, stalking, bullying.”
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Radziwill gave examples of behavior she claimed to have seen first-hand from Hoppy. “He text messages her stuff: ‘You’re old, ugly, and irrelevant,’ ” Radziwill said. “He gaslights her. He’s like, ‘Oh, we know you’re not interested in being a mother.’ And I spend a lot of time with Bethenny when Bryn is there. She is with her — they are like that. She doesn’t say a single word negative about him.” (Hoppy’s attorney did not respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.)
Frankel and Hoppy, who married in March 2010 and announced their split in December 2012, finalized their divorce in July 2016 — but Radziwill said that only increased Hoppy’s allegedly inappropriate behavior. “It was weird because after the settlement she thought it would go away,” Radziwill said. “It escalated. …He won’t let up.”
“I really don’t understand how she holds it all together. Work, Bryn, and now this? It sounds like a crazy situation,” Medley said. “It’s disgraceful. … What is wrong with him? It’s so disgusting.”
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So how exactly was Frankel handling things? As RHONY viewers saw, she appeared to just be shutting down and fading into the back.
“Usually when something crazy or scandalous or big happens with me, instantly I start seeing Google Alerts. And then all of a sudden, the word is out. And so I’m having a little bit of anxiety,” Frankel confessed to viewers. “I feel like a zombie. I don’t know how this group is going to react to something like this. For all I know they’ll be negative. I don’t want to deal with it and I don’t want to share it with a lot of them. I don’t trust some of the people here.”
Snowboarding helped — as it allowed Frankel to feel “present” and “in the moment.” She expressed: “I feel liberated and free. This is exactly what I need. It could not have come at a better time. I’m just living in the moment.”
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But Radziwill knew something was wrong, and approached Frankel to see how she was doing. “Just so you know, I confided with Dorinda about some of the stuff that happened this weekend,” Radziwill said. “I kept it vague — I didn’t want to go into anything specific about some of the stuff. But I was a little specific about some of the stuff I saw: the FaceTiming, the texts, the constant emails about nothing …”
“It’s crazy,” Frankel said. “It’s blown up. I’ve gotten 10,000 texts, I haven’t responded to one person.”
“It doesn’t matter to me if someone knows or doesn’t know. It’s so beyond gossip — it’s beyond anything,” she said. “I just want to feel some freedom and some normalcy. Just some relief.”
The Real Housewives of New York City airs Wednesdays (9 p.m. ET) on Bravo.