03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Is Balloon Boy's Mom, Mayumi Heene, a Victim of Her Husband? its "Entertainment" section, it should be noted--posted a disturbing portrait Tuesday of Mayumi Heene, Balloon Boy's mother. The story, "Balloon Boy Mom: Co-Conspirator or Abused Wife?" not only suggests that Mayumi may be a victim in this saga, but that her being Japanese has something to do with it.

The piece brings up the 911 call that brought police to the Heene house last February, when Mayumi appeared to have been hit in the face, and centers largely around allegations made by Richard Heene's former business partner, Barbara Slusser, who worked with him on his "Psyience Detectives" web show. Slusser told that Mayumi's "Japanese background has kept her in a subservient relationship with her husband and three boys," and also called the mother of three "the most stoic person" and "basically (Richard's) slave."

Another former Richard Heene friend and colleague, Scott Stevens, echoed Slusser's statements.

"It's a cultural thing and (Richard) leveraged that knowledge," Stevens said. "He believed that Asian women can be subservient and that's what he wanted. But it takes two to tango and she was with him for more than a decade. Every day that was the dynamic in play."

The story went on to note how, for the Heenes' first of two appearances on Wife Swap, the show promo painted the following picture of the couple: "While Richard devotes every moment to his research, he expects Mayumi to cook, clean and run the house without any help." And how, in that October 2008 episode, Richard screamed at the woman who swapped places with his wife for two weeks, "You're a man's nightmare. I'm so glad my wife was born in Japan."

So, if we're to believe this report, Mayumi Heene is essentially a sad, suffering-in-silence, subservient--a word used three times to describe her--Asian woman cliche (and Richard Heene, as everyone's suspected all along, a gaping, raging asshole). There is, however, one startling revelation in the story that prevents us from writing off Mayumi as a total victim: she and Richard have SEPARATE legal representation. In other words, if the Heenes are going to go down like their little Mylar balloon for this hoax, they're not going to go down together.

Lee Christian, Mayumi's lawyer, said the accounts given by Slusser and others indicate that the woman should not be accused of being a co-conspirator in any alleged hoax.

"I can't comment on the specific allegations here but if those statements are indeed true, then the district attorney needs to seriously think about whether to charge Mrs. Heene in this case," Christian said.

Selling out your domineering husband when faced with criminal charges? That's one helluva way to show him who's boss.

From Mayumi's second appearance on Wife Swap