It can take a lot for a reality TV show to halt production; not even the suicide of a boxing hopeful on The Contender could do it. On the other hand, ABC pulled the plug on the filming of an episode of Wife Swap on Tuesday when a 13-year-old girl in one of the show’s two families accused her father of punching her in the face. The father, 38-year-old Nashvile restaurateur Yanni Panagiotakis, was arrested and charged with domestic assault. His wife, Dina, immediately flew back home from the California home to which she’d been swapped, according to the Nashville Tennessean. Production on the episode will not resume, ABC said.
According to police, Panagiotakis drove his daughter and her 9-year-old brother to a friend’s house Tuesday night, with an ABC crew accompanying them in another vehicle. Crew members did not witness the alleged assault, but they spotted apparent injuries on the girl’s nose and cheek. She told them her father had punched her several times for not wearing a coat, police said. The crew took the girl to a hospital, where she was treated and released. They then took the children to a motel, accompanied by an official from the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services. Panagiotakis was arrested and freed the next morning on $1,000 bail.
”First and foremost, the well-being of all participants in Wife Swap is a top priority,” ABC said in a statement. ”At the first realization that the daughter of the Nashville-based family participating in the episode that has been shooting over the past week needed medical attention, the producers immediately sought treatment for her.”
On Wednesday, Dina Panagiotakis told the Tennessean that neither she nor her husband would comment to the press, citing the advice of their lawyer. ”Please leave us alone so we can get our lives back together,” she said.