Earlier this week, New Times reported on the latest bizarre chapter in the story of Danielle Bregoli, whose appearances on Dr. Phil made her an internet celebrity and secured her a recording contract with Atlantic Records. Many observers have commented about the situation, but a new voice has entered the conversation, arguably one more important than all others: that of her father.
Ira Peskowitz, age 49, has come out in opposition to what he sees as the exploitation of his 14-year-old daughter by Atlantic Records and her management team. He tells New Times he is disturbed that her provocative behavior and persona — glamorized and commodified in her new rap video, "These Heaux" — is being condoned and even encouraged in the name of profit.
"The exploitation of what they're doing to her," he says, "is disgusting."
Peskowitz, a sheriff's deputy in Palm Beach County, does not think enough is being done to shield her from the corrosive influence of her newfound stardom. He is disturbed by her association with Atlantic label-mate and fellow South Floridian Kodak Black, who has been accused of sexual assault and is under house arrest for parole violation. He also says the teenager is exposed daily to predatory comments of a sexual nature on her social media feeds and shuffled among apartments rented on Airbnb.
He believes Bregoli's managers and mother are intentionally keeping her from associating with him. Peskowitz says the group changed his daughter's phone number and forced the cancellation of a trip to Lion Country Safari, where she would have met her stepbrothers.
"Obviously, people are making money off her," he says. "But what is the mother or her management doing to protect this child? Absolutely nothing."
The firm that represented Bregoli earlier this year did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did Atlantic Records.
Peskowitz has had difficulty connecting with his daughter since she was an infant. A February story in the Palm Beach Post recounts the long history of the custody battle between her parents, who remained unmarried and suffered through a turbulent relationship marked by accusations of domestic violence on both sides. Although Barbara Bregoli was granted primary custody, she continually petitioned the court to halt his visits by sending letters to a Palm Beach County magistrate, the sheriff's office, and other officials.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
The Dr. Phil appearances and subsequent drama have only amplified the family's troubles. Peskowitz says his children are teased in school because of their half-sister's actions. He also says he has received letters from her management threatening legal action in the event of "defamation."
Whatever can be said of this situation, it is certainly an example of an obsessive media culture gone too far. Danielle Bregoli was once merely a troubled child, but the amplification of her troubles by talk shows and social media has clearly upended her life. And the people surrounding her have done nothing to give her a sense of normalcy.
She is, after all, a 14-year-old girl, estranged from her father and pushed into a tawdry limelight.
Correction: An earlier version of this incorrectly referred to Adam Kluger Public Relations as the firm that represents Danielle Bregoli. Ms. Bregoli is represented by The Kluger Agency, who also declined to comment.