The shell-shocked Sunderland dad tells us he wishes that drama caused from reports he was exploiting his daughter would stop – and that Abby is doing well. Her brother, Zac, agrees
Laurence Sunderland is fighting back against claims that he was exploiting his teenage daughter Abby’s around-the-world trip for the purposes of a reality show. In an exclusive interview, both he and his 18-year-old son, Zac, told HollywoodLife.com that Abby is fine, their family is surviving and that Laurence would NEVER sell out his children.
“I would never even BEGIN to harm any of my kids,” Laurence told us at his Thousand Oaks, Calif. home June 15 in response to said exploitation claims, adding that the horrific things being said about him are “not at all” true.
The most important thing, says Laurence, is that his 16-year-old daughter, who was stranded in the Indian Ocean after her boat was damaged in a storm, is alive and well. “I’m just glad she’s alright,” he said, even revealing that she “doesn’t plan on another [voyage] any time soon, but she’ll be on boat again.” He refused to comment as to whether she had finally come home.
Above all, Laurence says he knows that his family will survive this scandal. “It is really weird to be ridiculed over this, but we are a strong family,” he confided, allowing that he, wife Marianne, and his other six children are getting through the drama “so far”, adding, “It’s scary, you know what I mean? I would like for this all just to be over.”
As for Adventures in Sunderland, the reality show he pitched then swore he cut ties with after coming under harsh criticism from the media ? “I can’t really talk about that with anyone,” Laurence said.
Abby’s 18-year-old brother, Zac (who, at the age of 17, became the youngest person ever to complete the same voyage Abby had attempted) agreed that his sister is doing well, telling us, “She’s fine” but dismissed the bad dad reports, including that Laurence was “cutting corners” by having his slightly less-seasoned sailor sister attempt the same trip he had taken. “My dad’s cool!” he stated.
At least Laurence has his son’s support – but he says there are others out there who believe he isn’t a bad person. “Thank you to everyone who has seen us through this,” he said. “We appreciate the supporters.”