Author’s Note: The author’s October 15th, 2016 final edition of this story appears in Huffington Post.
Trump Productions LLC and MTV produced an eight episode reality TV show called “Girls of Hedsor Hall” and now one participant has exclusively contacted me by email with yet unpublished allegations of abuse, civil breach of contract and potentially criminal offenses under both UK and European law, if reported to authorities. We have been provided as well as with a copy of her MTV Network contract, which paid the contestant only $100 day. Marden’s Doctor said that she would’ve died of dehydration or malnutrition had she remained on the set of the Show hosted by former Miss USA Tara Connor.
Both Trump and MTV have downplayed their partnership in creating the copycat series based on “Ladette to Lady” which is a fictitious ladies finishing school, ironically which was created at the same time that Trump University was still scamming real estate investors by pretending to be an actual school. Trump’s patriarchal production was more about changing girls, and using half-true portrayals to slut-shame contestants, while paying only $4.17 per hour without overtime wages to the female reality TV contestants, one of whom took home a $100,000 “trust fund” as a grand prize.
In an exclusive email interview with the confirmed contestant “Jen M” – known in real life as Florida resident Jen Marden – she alleges a serious breach of contract against the show’s producers on the set during filming. Producers withheld Jen Marder’s passport when she wished to exercise her right to leave the show freely for health reasons. Marden told us the following:
“It was really bad.. Trump & MTV produced the show. It was filmed in London & in our contract it said any participant can leave whenever they want so when I got assaulted & asked to leave the show the producers told me leaving will be kinda hard considering we have your passport!! Legally speaking, I’m pretty sure you can take someone’s passport unless you are law enforcement not sure if the term is entrapment or kidnapping.. And that was just the beginning.”
In her emails, Jen Marden alleged the use of malnutrition to keep the women on edge, forcing contestants to survive on chocolate chips for days while awaiting the formal start of production. Along with evilly cunning editing which is a trademark of the genre, the all female cast probably doesn’t want to acknowledge their participation openly. Sadly, the women all waived their rights to any claims under libel laws, and many other types of claims in a one-sided 37 page entertainment contract under California law, a copy of which was provided by Marden un-signed, but as she appeared on the show it is taken for factually the correct form.
Over the phone, Marden stressed that she has mostly out the reality TV nightmare story behind her, but in light of the TV producer’s latest political aspirations, it caused her to speak out again today.
We interviewed UK Employment Barrister (labor lawyer) Keith Webster about the situation without revealing the specific players. Webster almost immediately expressed concerns of a criminal violation of the UK’s kidnapping, false imprisonment or forced labor laws based on Marden’s detailed account.
“I don’t know the complete details nor identity of the parties. However, from what I have been told, this situation raises not only questions of US contract law, but it raises questions of whether criminal offenses in the UK have been committed, for example false imprisonment, kidnap or possibly forced labour,” said the British attorney.
“You’d simply have to go and see the police, they will investigate the matter, take statements and it would be up to them to consult with prosecuting authorities and make a decision about charging individuals or corporations in the UK criminal Courts.”
We later spoke with Alan Crockford at Scotland Yard’s press bureau. Crockford agreed that withholding passports to force a theatrical performer to stay on set, when that person wished to leave was highly unusual. He indicated that most forced labor cases involve workers in low-wage fields or women smuggled across international lines for prostitution. According to Crockford, the victim would have to contact the Thames Valley Police as the local agency with jurisdiction to accept a complaint.
Crockford indicated that all allegations are investigated by the UK government, who retains sole discretion over whether to bring charges, and that they would take statements from any other witnesses or show participants, review video, and request the show’s complete recordings before making a determination of criminality and deciding whom to charge, if a corporation or an individual or both.
According to the contract, with “I” being Ms. Marden: “I understand that although I am free to leave the Living Space at any time, if I do indeed leave the Living Space without the prior consent of Producer, I am subject to disqualification and elimination from the Program.”
The contract provided was not counter-signed, but presumably is an accurate and correct copy of the agreement between parties. Marden clearly indicated that she found her behavior to be bound by its designs. According to our telephone interview, Marden collected roughly $1400 for two weeks overseas. Her medical bills we not paid by the network after her ordeal getting home and going to NYU Medical Hospital in Mahnattan, NY.
Jen Marden also indicated that she went to the media in 2009 after the release of the “Girls of Hedson Hall” but relented when MTV threatened her with a “multi-million dollar” lawsuit for speaking out.
Marden continued to say in her detailed account that,
“I was assaulted by an English Count, sleep deprived, malnourished because of inadequate food intake due to my hypoglycemia and anemia and fell unconscious during production in London. Upon my arrival home, I was hospitalized and fell unconscious for two days and was informed by the doctor that I ‘most likely would have died’ if I stayed any longer. I have the hospital records available for you upon request.”
Marden spoke to an NYC blogger around the time of the show, where she said, “I found I didn’t really like it in the end, and that’s not to say I know how the producers have ended up editing the final version which I have yet to see but on a personal level I lived it on camera and now I’m kinda done with it,” where she also admitted to having “bouts of eating disorders.”
Jen Marden’s complete account is below, we are still awaiting her transmission of medical records to back up these allegations:
TIME LINE OF INCIDENTS ON THE “GIRLS OF HEDSOR HALL”
PLEASE NOTE THAT I COULD BE OFF WITH THE EXACT DATES BUT I THINK THIS IS CLOSE TO ACCURATE
October 6th Left for London
October 7th: arrived in London, was taken directly to the airport hotel
October 8th: Stayed in my room at the hotel all day and night w/ hardly any food, could not leave the room unless we asked the security guards that were stationed outside each of our rooms. We did not have our luggage & they took my prescription medication away.
October 9th: left for Hedsor Hall around mid afternoon
October 10th-12th production was setting up, no catering set up yet so we were forced to consume chocolate and chips. Could not leave our rooms AT ALL
October 13th: Started filming
October 14th: met with the instructors, got our uniforms, went over logistics
October 15th: Hosted a cocktail party where I got into a verbal argument with one of the guys. I was assaulted; tried to walk away but was held against my will for at least 5 mins by this guy while the camera were rolling & the producers where just watching this take place & not do anything to stop it. Once I was able to get away the guy grabbed my chest, and once again nothing was being done to stop it.
October 16th: Asked to go home after the incident last night but was threatened by the producers BC they had my passport, I call that unlawful imprisonment
October 17th & 18th: Just did our activities
October 19th: Was out in the woods watching hunters kill birds (that in it’s self was traumatic enough for me, but what was even worse was that I was forced to pick up the dead birds) After that lovely activity, we were in the lodge & that is where I passed out (That was the first time I saw the Director & producers tell the cameraman to stop filming) I should have been rushed to the hospital but instead I was forced Glucose down my throat until my blood sugar was back to normal. I was still out of it but instead of resting like you are supposed to do after fainting, the producers made me go along with the next task which was defeathering these birds. I was in hysterics & did not want to do it but the teacher, Ms. Shrager forced me down and made me pluck the feathers and then went so far as to rip it’s head off in front of me splattering me with Blood and feathers. That night I was eliminated for “handing out drugs” which is completely slander and a total defamation of my character, obviously the real reason for my elimination was because the producers finally realized that I was a huge liability for them.
October 20th: Flew back to NY
October 21: Was sleeping since arriving home late last night, did not wake up until October 22.
October 22nd: Once I woke up, I passed out again; my mom was with me & took me to the ER on LI, where I was diagnosed with Malnutrition, exhaustion & dehydration. And was told that I probably would have died if I stayed on the show any longer.
It took about a week and a half for me to get back my strength physically, yet emotionally I’m still scared from that experience.
I would have thought the horror would have stopped once I got home but when the showed aired in February I was getting death threats everyday for about a month & MTV did nothing to stop it.
Forced labour is illegal under British law. So is Human Trafficking, which is defined as bringing people across an international border for the purposes of exploitation in forced labour. In fact, the UK passed a new “Modern Slavery” law in 2015 specifically to clarify and strengthen the law and its penalties, and provide for an Anti-Slavery Commissioner.
European law bans forced labor under one of the Geneva Conventions. In addition, the European Convention on Human Rights bans forced labor under Article 4, which is enforced by the European Court of Human Rights, which acts as a court of last resort, for those individuals unable to find justice under local law. It has been remarked that it’s highly unusual for a court to give individuals standing in international affairs, but due to the difficulty of prosecuting offenses across borders, for many it’s their only recourse for justice.
A Scotland Yard public information officer was interviewed for this story indicated that if reported, they would investigate the allegations seriously. Witnesses would be interviewed, and under the government’s sole discretion charges could be brought.
“In civil proceedings there is a disclosure process that is followed pretty diligently, which should reveal relevant video evidence. The (UK) police have the power to search and seize video evidence if they can find it, and the criminal courts have power to order disclosure if they know that evidence exists, which they often do,” said Barrister Webster describing the process by which UK’s laws would work, “A search order can be issued by the English civil courts, but they issue them rarely. The Court must be very much convinced that it is proportionate and necessary due to the highly disruptive effect such an order can have.”
“In addition to my story,” Marden claimed, slamming the Trump television producers business practices, “this company allowed girls to participate who were not in the required physical and mental state to travel abroad and participate on the show.”
“One of the girls attempted suicide a week before the show, and rather than allowing her to stay home and receive the proper psychiatric care, she was still forced to participate on the show. She is willing to go forward with this story,” Marden promised when interviewed from her new home in Florida by phone, “Another girl was suffering with back pain, but instead of taking her to the hospital to have MRI and X rays taken, she was forced to participate in strenuous activities on the show. As a result, she had to have major back surgery immediately following her arrival at home. She is also willing to forward with her story. These are just some of the horror stories we have to share about our experiences on the show. I want to go forward with this story so others won’t suffer the same circumstances.”
As of our last phone conversion, Jen Marden sounded surprised that the British authorities would still completely investigate any allegations. However, when asked if she would in fact file a formal complaint, Marden indicated that she would contact the Thames Valley Police to explore her options and nothing further.
Author’s Note: The author’s October15th, 2016 arrangement of this story appears in Huffington Post.
Here’s Trump and former Miss USA Tara Conner introducing the failed reality TV show to the press:
Grant Stern is the Executive Editor of Occupy Democrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report, and a senior advisor to the Democratic Coalition