The new season of Kendra Wilkinson’s reality series began with a bang on Oct. 3, with footage from June of the devastated star first learning that her husband Hank Baskett had allegedly cheated on her with a transsexual model while she was pregnant. But there’s another dramatic high point coming up this season that has set off fireworks between Kendra and her own family.
Rumors broke late this summer that Kendra had filmed a reunion with her long estranged father, Eric Wilkinson, near his former home in Costa Rica — the same man who, Kendra’s mom, Patti, has long alleged, walked out on her, Kendra and younger brother, Colin, after their 1994 divorce in San Diego.
Through the years, Eric has kept silent, even in the face of recent personal attacks from his son and ex-wife. Now, Kathi Wilkinson — another ex-wife and Kendra’s former stepmom — is speaking up on his behalf. “Eric has suffered immeasurably from being separated from his children,” Kathi tells Star. “Through the years, Patti would e-mail Eric and say, ‘Your kids hate you.’ Then she’d tell the kids, ‘Your father abandoned you.’ She’s hurt those children so badly. But the time has come to shine light into a dark place.”
She adds, “Eric is an extraordinary and brilliant individual. His first love is surfing, but he studied molecular biology and became a DNA specialist. The nature of his job meant he was always traveling around the world.” Unfortunately, says Kathi — who remains close to Eric following their amicable divorce after 13 years of marriage — all that traveling prevented him from “fighting harder for Kendra and Colin and not giving Patti such free rein.”
More importantly, “Eric has close friends who had to drag their children through divorce court. He swore he’d never do that, create a hostile environment where his kids had to choose between parents. It was Patti who created this bad dynamic. Eric and I invited Kendra and Colin for visit every summer for vacations and holidays, all expenses paid by us. Patti denied them all.”
Recently, Colin made claims that his dad left the family “broke” years ago and was paid to b appear on Kendra’s show. “They would be laughable if they weren’t so tragically false,” Kathi says of the allegations. “Eric paid all his child support. I know because I cut the checks, including the last one for $8,000 in 2006. And he would personally find the idea of being paid so that he could be back with his beloved daughter offensive.”
Hopefully, says Kathi, Eric’s reunion with Kendra in Costa Rica this summer will lead to love and understanding among the family. “Kendra’s manager contacted me, and I gave them Eric’s e-mail,” she reveals. “It was an incredibly emotional moment when they reconnected — the first time since Kendra was 15. They both broke down in tears, and Eric cried joyously almost every day of the three weeks they were together.” Kendra and her dad met up in Los Angeles a few weeks later.
For more on Kendra’s dad, pick up the latest issue of Star, on newsstands now!