Dunkleman's estranged wife claims he emotionally and physically abused her in legal documents
Former American Idol host Brian Dunkleman and estranged wife Kalea are both making serious claims of abuse while they enter a legal battle over the custody of their 3-year-old son Jackson.
In a petition for legal separation filed by Kalea’s lawyer on May 9 and obtained by PEOPLE, Kalea claims Dunkleman took Jackson to New York without her knowledge and obtained “an emergency order” granting him sole legal and primary physical custody of their son. In the papers, she alleges that Dunkleman only allowed her to speak to her son via FaceTime just a few times for the first two weeks of their time apart.
Kalea also states in the documents that Dunkleman has accused her of being “abusive, an unrepentant alcoholic, a danger to both Brian and Jackson and in some sort of improper relationship with a drug dealer” but that “the truth is markedly different.”
A rep for Dunkleman did not respond to a request for comment.
Through the course of Kalea’s lengthy declaration, the former culinary publicist chronicles her nine-year marriage to Dunkleman.
According to the papers, the couple suffered a miscarriage shortly before conceiving Jackson in 2012, and Kalea was put on strict bed rest just 25 weeks into her pregnancy because of a physical condition related to a surgery she underwent after contracting HPV (a virus she says Dunkleman unknowingly passed on to her).
Due to other complications, Jackson was born at 35 weeks along.
According to the papers, Kalea had been the “consistent financial backbone” for their household during most of the relationship, and because she had used most of her allotted maternity leave time while on bed rest, she had to return to work just seven weeks after giving birth.
“The stress of going back to a highly demanding job, being a new mother, and still trying to be the same wife/friend/daughter/and sister I had been before overwhelmed me,” she says in her declaration. “Though I didn’t recognize it at the time, and it took much longer for me to see the connection, I began to self-medicate my anxiety and stress with alcohol.”
With no family history of alcoholism, Kalea says in the papers she did not recognize the signs of the disease until she was admitted to a hospital by a neurologist because of nerve damage. Diagnosed as an alcoholic, Kalea went into detox and began to aggressively combat the disease.
“It has made me question tenets I once held true and friends I once held dear,” Kalea says in the documents of her alcoholism. “It has never, never made me question my love for my son or my devotion to him. It has never affected my ability to care for him; it has never tarnished my unending determination to carve out the best life for him.”
“Alcoholism is an insidious, cunning, powerful disease, but it has never overtaken the relationship between me and Jackson,” she continues in the papers. “We are two peas in a pod.”
Kalea characterizes her estranged husband in the papers as “previously a loving and caring father” and believes “he loves Jackson deeply and wants what is best for him” but “Brian’s behavior has changed.”
Claiming Dunkleman is “almost constantly angry and/or volatile,” Kalea claims in the documents that over the past year he “has emotionally and physically abused me and our son.”
Kalea goes on to explain the alleged instances of the abuse in detail.
“He has picked me up by the shoulders and thrown me into a couch while Jackson watched,” she says in the papers. “He has screamed at me, fist raised within an inch of my face, saying that he hates me; he has grabbed my arm, whipped me around and thrown me against a wall causing large bruises to my leg (of which I have a picture) just because I was leaving the house in the morning to meet a friend for coffee and, it seemed, he was too tired to take care of Jackson. On this particular morning he screamed after me, with Jackson standing next to him, saying, ‘Get ready to have hell rain down on your head.’ ”
“Brian has locked me out of our house while Jackson looked at me through our back door, screaming for me, and done nothing,” she continues. “He has refused to let me go into the house and use the restroom, forcing me to urinate in the ivy in our backyard, smirking while I did so.”
She also states in the papers that Dunkleman has “not valued my serenity nor supported my sobriety in an effective way for over a year, which has led to relapses and despair.”
Kalea has asked for joint custody of Jackson with “equal parenting time.”
“I do not believe there is an immediate future for me and Brian, and to continue to keep Jackson 3,000 miles away from everything he has ever known…is simply a way to punish me,” she says in the papers. “By extension, he is punishing Jackson. He deserves to sleep in his bed, go to the school he loves, attend soccer practice, start swim lessons, and continue thjs life he’s known here. I am not a danger to my son, nor have I ever been.”
Though the petition states Kalea’s request that Jackson be returned to California by May 15, the document lists May 20 as the deadline for a response from Dunkleman.