Firefighters visits to Dr. Phil hurt him
- Nick Budnick
- Portland Tribune - News
Brandon King put on leave after 'soap opera' story detailed on TV
A Portland firefighter who starred in two episodes of the TV talk show 'Dr. Phil' has been placed on leave.
Last September, Brandon A. King, 34, appeared on the show with his wife and her best friend, only to be accused of a variety of bizarre behavior, including drugging and sleeping with a nanny, making sexual advances to his wife's best friend and several others, threatening his wife's life, and disciplining his stepdaughter by soaking her with a garden hose outside in the winter.
'It is a story that reads like a soap opera,' said the host, Phil McGraw.
King could not be reached; a message left for him with his father was not returned. On the show, King admitted that he had 'sprayed down' his stepdaughter and slept with the family's 18-year-old live-in nanny, but he denied drugging anyone, threatening his wife's life or making advances upon the other nannies.
'I'll admit to the one,' he said. 'But, you know, five? C'mon.'
'She was like our daughter,' said Amy King, of the 18-year-old live-in nanny.
Now, his career may be in trouble. According to Portland fire bureau spokesman Lt. Allen Oswalt, King was placed on leave Wednesday. Oswalt said he could not comment on the reasons, saying it was a personnel issue.
He did say that King's appearance on the show did not in itself violate any policies. Although a bureau rule forbids bringing disrepute upon the bureau, King did not identify his employer or give his last name on the show.
'He didn't violate any of our internal rules because all of the things that were talked about … were either alleged but not proven, and nobody ever complained, and police never investigated,' Oswalt said.
Indeed, a records check turned up no convictions other than a 1995 case of drunken driving.
There have, however, been two restraining orders filed against him by Amy King in Washington County Circuit Court.
In 2002, while living in Beaverton, she filed for a restraining order against him, saying he'd 'threatened to beat me up and/or kill me.'
According to court documents, she accused him of pushing her and breaking furniture at her home. She also claimed that when police responded to her house, 'they saw all the damage he had done (and) saw me cowering and crying in the corner. Because of Brandon's (fire) position in the community the officers left.'
In March 2007, living in Tigard, Amy King filed for another restraining order, court records show. She said he had threatened her and announced that he was 'moving back in' against her will 'because he deserves it. He said 'be careful what you say because you are walking a slippery slope.' '
Although the court order forbade King from coming within 100 yards of his wife, he admitted on the show that he had violated it and that they were sleeping together again.
Though a restraining order violation can be cause for arrest, conviction and jailing, in this case it appears no police report was made.
'Bad days' are inevitable
Amy King's mother, on 'Dr. Phil,' cited King's ownership of guns and said, 'I just think he's an explosion waiting to happen.'
Brandon King responded that he had made mistakes but said that he could handle the pressure, citing his job.
'You know, there's been days where I've delivered babies that have died in my arms, where I've come home and have been perfectly fine,' he said. 'Who's in here that has done that? … Where I've seen three or four people burned to death and I've pulled them out of a house.
'Of course, I'm going to come home and have bad days,' he said.
Yvonne Deckard, the city's human resources director, declined to comment on any specific personnel cases.
She said that a restraining order, if not accompanied by an arrest or conviction, may not even show up in a background check. And even if it did, it would not necessarily affect a person's job performance.
King worked for the Salem Fire Department for eight years before taking a job with Portland in 2005.
Tom Whelan, a retired Salem firefighter and state lawmaker, said he did not know King but when told of his TV appearance predicted that management may have taken an interest.
'He'd certainly be on somebody's watch list,' Whelan said. 'That's the strangest thing I've ever heard.'
Request to film work denied
Asked whether the allegations are relevant to King's suitability to be a Portland firefighter, Whelan said that the philandering is not, but the alleged violence 'is something altogether different.'
Oswalt said that the show was 'intensely scrutinized' and widely talked about at the bureau, though the show's local connection was not made public anywhere.
Oswalt said the show had requested permission to film King at work, but the bureau declined. 'We said absolutely not, because nothing good comes out of 'Dr. Phil' - at least not for us, for our reputation,' he said.
According to court records, the Kings' divorce proceedings were dismissed after both failed to appear for a hearing in December.