Jeff Lewis Joked Surrogate Should 'Have Waxed' Before Delivering His Daughter on TV
On Tuesday, Alexandra Trent filed a lawsuit claiming that Lewis and Edward had personally humiliated her by making "disgusting" comments on the show about her, according to a complaint obtained by PEOPLE
The relationship between Jeff Lewis and the surrogate who carried his 19-month-old daughter Monroe Christine began to deteriorate when the Flipping Out star made an off-color joke about her vagina as she gave birth to his first child with partner Gage Edward.
Alexandra Trent was seen on multiple episodes over two seasons of Flipping Out, after Lewis and Edward hired her to carry Monroe. A season 10 episode (filmed on Oct. 25, 2016 and aired Aug. 31, 2017) documented Trent’s delivery, with Lewis and Edward — and the Flipping Out cameras — in the hospital room as it happened.
The show even captured the first moments Monroe was placed in Lewis and Edward’s arms, for skin-to-skin contact, seconds after her birth.
But as sweet and emotional as Monroe’s delivery was, Lewis made a Joke afterwards that Trent found offensive and embarrassing.
During interview setups filmed later and spliced into the episode, Lewis said, “If I was a surrogate, and I had known there was going to be an audience, I probably would have waxed. And that was the shocking part for Gage. I don’t think Gage had ever seen a vagina, let alone one that big.”
On Tuesday, Alexandra Trent filed a lawsuit claiming that Lewis and Edward had personally humiliated her and left her “deeply damaged” by making the “disgusting” comment on the show about her, according to the complaint obtained by PEOPLE.
She’s also accused Bravo and Flipping Out producers Authentic Entertainment of filming her vagina without permission, claiming that she had never given consent to have her delivery filmed and that it “caused incredible anguish, self-loathing, contempt and depression.”
Though reps for Bravo did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment, Lewis, 48, told PEOPLE that the news of the suit took he and Edward by surprise.
“This is like a blow to the head. We are completely blindsided by this,” Lewis said, via phone. “We are just devastated. I thought we had a nice relationship, a friendship. We treated her like an extended member of the family. So you can imagine this is pretty stunning.”
“And this is where I’m so upset. Because, on one hand, I don’t want to tarnish this most amazing experience of my life,” he continued. “We couldn’t be more grateful to this woman for birthing our child. We are indebted to her… we are so completely grateful to her, because without her, we wouldn’t have Monroe. But on the other hand, these are fabricated claims and are completely bogus and without merit. This smells to me like a financial shakedown.”
Lewis said that having filmed thousands of hours for the show, he didn’t remember making this particular comment before it aired. But when he saw the show, he recognized it as “a poor attempt at humor.”
When Trent reached out to their surrogacy attorney and said she was upset about what had been said, Lewis sent her flowers and an apology letter.
“I thought all was good,” he said, adding that he and Edward stayed in touch with Trent well after the episode aired. “We spoke to her for months and months! She sent gifts. We were reaching out and giving her updates and pictures. I’m telling you, this was an amazing experience. We were friends. She was a part of our family. We bought her a beautiful push gift. That’s what’s so insane to me. I thought this was over.”
It wasn’t. Trent is seeking damages for unlawful recording, invasion of privacy and fraud.
She claims in her suit that she had no interest in being on Flipping Out and did not know she would be on a reality show when she responded to Lewis and Edward. A desire to help promote the option of surrogacy, she said, led her to agree to filming ultrasound appointments, but claims she drew the line at filming the birth.
Trent alleges that camera operators secretly filmed her from behind a curtain in the hospital, despite telling her they wouldn’t. The documents also detail that her doctors were unaware cameras were rolling and her blurred-out vagina was shown on-screen.
Weeks after it aired, a business associated informed Trent of what was on television, the suit says. She was “humiliated and distraught” and has been unable to get Bravo to take down the clips from their website. She also canceled another surrogacy contract out of “embarrassment.”
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Lewis balked at claims that Flipping Out filmed Trent without her permission, explaining that appearance releases were signed with both the production company as well as the surrogacy agreement.
He added: “Flipping Out is not a hidden camera show. There were moments where there were two, three, four cameras. Everybody was mic-ed. There was a boom, there was a producer. There were production assistants. I remember filming at lunch with her family, and that was a big crew there that day. So how do you now say you didn’t know you were being filmed? It’s unbelievable.”
The experience has left Lewis and Edward clear about one thing though: they won’t be asking Trent to carry baby No. 2 when the time comes.
“Shame on her for mudding such a beautiful experience,” Lewis said. “I personally believe she will have to answer to God one day for what she’s done. And if I were her, I’d start drafting my apology now.”