Madonna says Sean Penn never hit her, as she offers evidence for her ex-husband

Madonna

Madonna has denied she was struck by Sean Penn during the course of their marriage in the 1980s, as she offered evidence on Penn’s behalf for his defamation case against the co-creator of the TV show Empire.

Lee Daniels had given an interview to the Hollywood Reporter in September, in which he defended the show’s star, Terrence Howard, who had been heavily criticised after admitting to hitting his wife. Howard “ain’t done nothing different than Marlon Brando or Sean Penn,” Daniels said, but because he is black, “he’s some fucking demon. That’s a sign of the time, of race, of where we are right now in America.” That prompted Penn to issue a $10m defamation suit against Daniels.

On Thursday, Penn filed an amended complaint in the suit, including a statement from Madonna. The singer called Penn “caring and compassionate” and addressed the two most frequently repeated rumours about her and Penn.

“I am aware of the allegations that have surfaced over the years accusing Sean of incidents of physical assault and abuse against me,” she wrote. “Specifically, I am aware of the allegations concerning an alleged incident that occurred in June 1987, whereby (according to tabloid reports) Sean allegedly struck me with ‘a baseball bat’. I know the allegations in those and other reports to be completely outrageous, malicious and false.

“I am also aware of allegations concerning an incident that occurred in December 1989, which purportedly resulted in Sean’s arrest for domestic assault and battery against me. I know those allegations to be false. While we certainly had more than one heated argument during our marriage, Sean has never struck me, ‘tied me up’ or physically assaulted me, and any report to the contrary is completely outrageous, malicious, reckless and false.”

On 28 December 1988 – which seems to be the second incident Madonna is referring to – Madonna had gone to the sheriff’s office in Malibu, where she made a complaint that Penn had assaulted her. He was charged with infliciting “corporal injury and traumatic conditions” on her, as well as battery. Madonna withdrew her complaint a week later, and has rarely commented on it since. In March 1989, she told Rolling Stone tabloid reports of the events were “extremely inaccurate, as they usually are. They made it all up. But I expect it. They’re always making shit up. I’ve completely reconciled myself to that fact.” Penn said Madonna had made the complaint out of jealousy that he was having a sexual relationship with another woman.

Daniels is defending himself by reference to the first amendment, guaranteeing free speech. He argues Penn’s lawsuit “attempts to silence Daniels’ honestly held opinion, a contribution to the marketplace of ideas voiced during the nation’s agonizing debate about racial disparity and domestic violence. The First Amendment abhors attempts to chill speech on hot topics.”

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