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Utah mother sues cable network over 'Escaping Polygamy' episode

SALT LAKE CITY — The mother of a young woman featured in the A&E series "Escaping Polygamy" sued the cable network and a film crew Tuesday for allegedly trespassing in her home.

Susan Nelson claims RIVR Media entered her Taylorsville home illegally to film her daughter, Melanie, who agreed to be in the show for $5,000 per episode. The program follows Jessica Christensen and Shanell DeRieux as they help people leave a polygamous lifestyle.

In December 2014, Melanie Nelson told her mother that although she did not want to move out, she had already committed to RIVR Media that she would move in with friends so she could participate in the filming. She also said the film crew was pressuring her to move out, according to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court.

While the Nelsons were talking about possible living arrangements, Christensen, DeRieux and others reached through a doggie door at the rear of the home, unlocked the door, and let themselves in, the lawsuit says.

"Once inside, one of the uninvited male persons put his arms around Melanie’s waist and attempted to forcibly remove her from her room while verbally encouraging her to leave with them," according to the lawsuit.

Susan Nelson called police. A Unified police officer allowed the crew to film Melanie Nelson collecting her belongings against Susan Nelson's wishes, the lawsuit says.

The program aired on July 14, 2015. Susan Nelson claims the program made false representations about her lifestyle and the condition of her home, including that it smelled of rotten vegetables and that polygamists ate only rotten vegetables because they could not afford better food, according to the lawsuit.

Email: romboy@deseretnews.com

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