When Gretchen first joined Real housewives of OC in 2008 she was engaged to marry Jeff Beitzel, a man 24 years her senior who was suffering from leukemia. He had been married and divorced five times and had four adult children. Throughout the season she helped care for Jeff, learning how to do some of the nursing care he required. He lost his battle September 13, 2008, after they finished filming the season. According to TMZ, Jeff left Gretchen $2.5 million in his will, but Gretchen has said that most of that went to debts that his estate had.
At that season’s reunion Tamra confronted Gretchen with information a man named Jay Photoglou gave her. He claimed to have been dating Gretchen while she was with Jeff, and published photos of them together online.
Gretchen sued him for defamation and a host of other counts including assault, battery, breach of contract, etc. The defamation part of the lawsuit was thrown out in 2010, but November 2012 Gretchen was awarded over $500,000 in damages for the other charges.
On the 100th episode special that aired this season Tamra tells the camera:
“Gretchen had a hard time because a lot of us girls saw some things she kind of wished we didn’t. She’s kind of engaged to this man but yet we’re seeing her with this other guy all around town.”
Gretchen says she was hurt by that accusation again because felt they had already gone through it and talked about it. She said she thought Tamra had apologized and admitted that she misjudged what was going on.
Tamra says that she can’t deny what she saw, which was Gretchen sitting on a guy’s lap at the St. Regis while her engagement ring was in her purse. Tamra says that she saw Gretchen kiss the guy while her fiance was in the hospital, but Gretchen maintains that that’s not proof of cheating.
Gretchen is now engaged to Slade Smiley, but she says she still wears her engagement ring from Jeff, and always will, and Slade’s ok with that.
Who do you believe: Tamra or Gretchen?