Carter Co., Ky. Attorney Frustrated with Reality Show Drug Use

CARTER COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Drug use and a reality show filmed in eastern Kentucky have led to frustration and criminal charges.

The MTV show "True Life" put the national spotlight on a Grayson woman who was addicted to pills.

But Carter County officials said the show has done more harm than good.

Patrick Flannery, the prosecuting attorney in Carter County, said he learned about the show from people in the community.

He said he was not only shocked to see a child in the middle of a drug deal but alarmed at what impact it could have on young viewers.

"True Life" has made waves in Grayson.

"It's really a sad commentary on our culture," Flannery said.

He said after he saw drug use and child neglect in a recent episode, he had to report it.

"I don't know how somebody can think they can participate in a drug deal on national television and there will be no consequences," Flannery said.

After the show aired, Kentucky State Police arrested Cortney Howard, 26, of Grayson, Ky., and David Nickell, 33, of Sandy Hook, Ky.

Both have been charged with felonies.

In the episode, both are shown illegally buying and using pills -- at moments, around Howard's son.

"You'd be surprised how many people around here are addicted to prescription pills, and I'm one of them," Howard said in the MTV episode.

Kentucky State Police said the episode helped their case.

"When you post things like these on television and on media sites, then you're recording crimes you've committed," KSP Lt. J.W. Gibson said. reached out to MTV about the arrests. The network declined to comment.

Still, officials said they're concerned about the message the show sends.

"It could be portrayed as something cool, that's definitely not what we need our children seeing," Gibson said.

"It's on national television, so when people think of Carter County, Ky., they just get to see the worst side of it, they don't get to see the good," Flannery said.

But county leaders hope they're sending a message of their own: that drug abuse will not be tolerated.

As of Monday, David Nickell remained behind bars at the Carter County Detention Center.

Howard said he expects both to be arraigned next month.

Kentucky State Police said they are still working on the investigation.

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