NEW YORK – Phil "Dr. Phil" McGraw is denying charges of sexually abusing a patient -- just as his talk show, Dr. Phil, gets set to kickoff.
"I have never so much as patted this woman on the back," McGraw tells the Sept. 21 issue of TV Guide. "It was absolutely and totally false.
"And it was fully investigated and dismissed."
The National Enquirer recently ran a story in which a woman claimed that McGraw had sexually abused her in the early '80s. She filed charges with the Texas State Board of Examiners and Psychologists.
The board reprimanded McGraw in 1989 "for hiring the woman too soon after she was a patient" and calling their relationship "an inappropriate dual relationship" -- but not mentioning any sexual misconduct, according to TV Guide.
McGraw, 52, says he took a lie detector test to prove his innocence, although he can't recall who administered the test.
"I told them to ask me about her and about any other woman patient," he says. "And I passed. This was a woman who had been a patient and moved away.
"She came to work for me for five or six weeks and then left. Later she files this complaint.
"With 20/20 hindsight, it would have been better if I'd never seen her again," he tells TV Guide. "But it had nothing to do with sexual allegations whatsoever."
McGraw shot to fame as a weekly guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show, where his trade mark phrase, "Get real!" soon became known to guests seeking psychological guidance.
His new syndicated show, Dr. Phil, debuts this Monday at 3 p.m. and is produced by Winfrey's company, Harpo Productions.
Some staffers on the show say they're not too thrilled with their new boss.
"I think he thinks that nobody can quite do what they do at Oprah," one anonymous staffer tells TV Guide.
"He has unforgiving standards and runs the show like a boot camp. He needs to treat people a little better and come down a notch."
McGraw, who's also a best-selling author (Self Matters), says he still calls Winfrey every single night.
"Of course, she gives me pointers," he says. "She tells me, 'Take it from me, lighting is everything.' "
The Sept. 21 issue of TV Guide hits newsstands this Monday.