"Worst Aunt Ever" Makes 'Today' Appearance to Address Lawsuit Against 8-Year-Old Nephew

Courtesy of NBC
Jennifer Connell and her nephew

"She would never do anything to hurt the family or myself and she loves us," her nephew said in her defense, as he sat by her side.

Jennifer Connell, known across the Internet as the #WorstAuntEver, appeared on Today Thursday to address the social media firestorm surrounding her controversial lawsuit against her 8-year-old nephew.

"We love each other very much," Connell told Savannah Guthrie as her nephew Sean Tarala, now 12, sat by her side.

"This was simply a case of a formality with an insurance claim," she explained. "It sounded terrible to me from the very beginning," she said, insisting that she "would never want to sue" her nephew.

Connell, 54, and Tarala appeared on Today to set the record straight and show that she is not, as one New York tabloid described her, the "Auntie Christ."

"It was a complete shock to me," she said, describing her almost-instantaneous rise to condemned villain. "It was amazing how I walked into court that morning and walked out all over social media. It just spun and spun, and suddenly I was getting calls, 'Don't look at the Internet. Don't turn on the television.' And it was sort of heartbreaking and really painful, but also like walking into a film of someone else's life."

Sean added, "I felt like everybody was saying stuff that they didn't know and they didn't — they were just saying something they didn't know."

Asked about his feelings about the case, Sean said of his aunt, "She would never do anything to hurt the family or myself and she loves us."

Connell became the target of intense criticism on social media and major news shows after suing her young nephew for accidentally breaking her arm in a hugging accident at his eighth birthday party. The accident occurred in 2011 and the case was finally heard by a jury on Tuesday. The jury ruled against Connell after about 25 minutes of deliberation.

"Our client was very reluctant to pursue this case," her lawyer said in a statement following the jury decision, "but in the end she had no choice but to sue the minor defendant directly to get her bills paid. She didn't want to do this any more than anyone else would. But her hand was forced by the insurance company."

Watch the full clip below.

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