At the center of Sean Penn’s $10 million defamation lawsuit against Empire creator Lee Daniels is the question of whether the actor ever beat up his ex-wife Madonna, whom he married in 1985 and separated from in 1989. Penn has repeatedly denied such allegations—which have been noted by numerous media outlets and at least two Madonna biographers, and often include claims of home invasion, bondage, and torture—while Madonna has remained almost entirely silent about them.
On Thursday evening, however, Penn’s lawyers filed an affidavit, dated October 7 and signed by Madonna Louise Ciccone, in which the singer appears to comprehensively deny that her ex-husband ever beat her up:
The relevant section reads:
3. I am aware of the allegations that have surfaced over the years accusing Sean of incidents of physical assault and abuse against me. 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, reckless, and false.
4. I am also aware of allegations concerning an incident that occurred in December, 1989 [sic], 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.
A recent review of Madonna’s prior statements about her ex-husband indicates that she has never publicly addressed the former set of allegations, and last vaguely discussed the latter ones in 1989, during an interview with Rolling Stone. This is the first time she has ever flatly denied that he ever hit her or tied her up. From RS:
How accurate are the tabloid tales of your night of terror—the nine hours in bondage?
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.
The precise provenance of the rumors surrounding Penn’s alleged treatment of Madonna during their four-year-long marriage remains unclear, as does their likely effect on the Penn’s actual claims of defamation against Daniels. We’ll be discussing those rumors, and how they came to achieve the currency of truth, in the very near future.
You can read the rest of Penn’s filing, which was submitted to the Supreme Court of New York in Manhattan, here.
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