The father of the Boynton Beach teen who became an internet sensation after her appearance on the Dr. Phil Show wants a family court to grant him a decision-making role in the girl’s life, according to a lawsuit filed Friday in circuit court.
Ira Peskowitz, a Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputy, is battling to gain shared parental responsibility for 13-year-old Danielle Bregoli, whose televised “cash me outside, howbow dah” taunt turned her into a viral meme.
Peskowitz, who 15 years ago had a stormy romance with the girl’s mother, Barbara Bregoli, alleges in court documents that the mother is “the root of the minor child’s problems.”
“The mother is using the minor child to make money and is exploiting the minor child through others,” alleges the father’s petition to modify the original custody agreement.
Reached by phone late Friday afternoon, Barbara Bregoli said only: “I’m not making any comment.”
The parents’ original 2004 agreement designated Bregoli as “primary residential parent” and allowed her “sole parental decision-making responsibility.” That agreement granted Peskowitz “open and liberal” visitation rights.
But the newly filed lawsuit notes there have been “substantial, material, involuntary, unanticipated and permanent change in circumstances” in the case. The suit cites the following examples of acts allegedly committed by the girl while in custody of her mother: “Stealing cars. Twerking in her underwear outdoors. Stealing her mother’s credit cards to buy things such as a stripper pole.”
The documents also allege Bregoli has allowed the teen to drop out of school, where she would be in the 7th grade.
The girl’s new-found fame has brought her TV and video appearances, an agent, TV producers, a traveling bodyguard and various trips to Los Angeles.
“What Ira filed hopefully will allow him to have a greater role in decision-making in Danielle’s life which is exactly what she needs right now,” said Elliot Cohen, a spokesman for the father’s family. “She needs a responsible adult who has her best interest in mind and who is working to get her the help she so desperately needs.”
Peskowitz started a GoFundMe.com page, asking the public to help him in his battle to gain more custodial authority over the teen.
His public plea, titled “Save Danielle M ‘Bregoli’ Peskowitz,” spells out his reasons for taking on the battle now.
“Despite her mother’s attempts to shut me out over the past decade, I always tried to be a part of Danielle’s life. I fear now her mother is doing all she can to cash in, at Danielle’s expense, on this viral fame-driven fiasco,” the father states on the web page. “I am no longer able to sit on the sidelines and watch my daughter spiral out of control.”
Palm Beach Post staff writer Julio Poletti contributed to this story.