WATERVILLE — The past two weeks have been difficult for Justin DiPietro. His daughter is missing, and widespread speculation has often focused on him.

Particularly, from the host of a daily HLN television program, he said.

“I will publicly invite Nancy Grace to come spend a day with me,” DiPietro said this afternoon during an exclusive interview with the Morning Sentinel. “Nancy Grace, please come see me. Do you want to spend a day with me? Do you want to see what I’m going through? Do you want to see the ins and outs of it? I invite you to.”

During a two-hour interview at the home of missing 21-month-old Ayla Reynolds, DiPietro and his mother Phoebe DiPietro described the family’s ordeal since he reported his daughter missing Dec. 17.

DiPietro said he understands why attention has sometimes focused on him, and added that he can handle the speculation.

“If I have to be the brunt of those attacks, then so be it. If that’s helping bring Ayla home, then sign me up,” he said.

Phoebe DiPietro, on the other hand, said the constant media pressure has been hurtful. Nonetheless, she said she’s proud of how her son has handled the scrutiny.

Justin DiPietro said his invitation is solely for Nancy Grace, not for her show’s producers.

“She’s got a job to do and I do respect that,” he said. “And, as far as her personal attacks on me, well, thank you, Nancy Grace, you are essentially keeping the awareness up about Ayla.”

DiPietro said he is optimistic Ayla will be found.

Ben McCanna — 861-9239
bmccanna@centralmaine.com