Even Before FKA Twigs Came Forward, Shia LaBeouf Was Allegedly Predatory For Years

Illustration for article titled Even Before FKA Twigs Came Forward, Shia LaBeouf Was Allegedly Predatory For Years
Image: Neil P. Mockford / Stringer (Getty Images)

Singer FKA Twigs has filed a lawsuit against actor Shia LaBeouf, accusing him of sexual battery, physical assault, and emotional distress over the course of their yearlong relationship. The New York Times reports that the lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, also accuses LaBeouf of purposefully giving Twigs, born Tahliah Debrett Barnett, a sexually transmitted disease during his campaign of “relentless abuse.”

Twigs told the New York Times that she came forward to make a point: That despite having money, fame, and a strong support system, she still ended up in an abusive relationship. In other words, if it can happen to her, it can happen to anyone.

“I’d like to be able to raise awareness on the tactics that abusers use to control you and take away your agency,” she said.

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From the Times:

Just after Valentine’s Day in 2019, the musician FKA twigs was in a car speeding toward Los Angeles. At the wheel was her boyfriend, the actor Shia LaBeouf. He was driving recklessly, she said in a lawsuit filed on Friday, removing his seatbelt and threatening to crash unless she professed her love for him.

They were returning from the desert, where Mr. LaBeouf, the star of “Transformers,” had raged at her throughout the trip, FKA twigs said in the lawsuit, once waking her up in the middle of the night, choking her. After she begged to be let out of the car, she said he pulled over at a gas station and she took her bags from the trunk. But Mr. LaBeouf followed, and assaulted her, throwing her against the car while screaming in her face, according to the suit. He then forced her back in the car.

The lawsuit also cites an incident alleged by another former girlfriend of LaBeouf, stylist Karolyn Pho, who dated LaBeouf from 2010 to 2012. The suit states that LaBeouf once “drunkenly pinned her to a bed and head-butted her, enough that she bled.” The relationship between Pho and LaBeouf was characterized in tabloids as tumultuous, with Pho depicted as teary, jealous, and unable to handle “hot-tempered” LaBeouf’s method acting. It’s now evident that something sinister may have occurred behind the scenes instead.

But these aren’t the first allegations to be made against LaBeouf. While LaBeouf’s battles with alcoholism have taken center stage in the press, rumors of abuse have made the rounds for years. In 2015, a German tabloid reported that LaBeouf injured his then-girlfriend, actress and model Mia Goth, during a fight.

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From Buzzfeed News:

One witness told Bild that Goth was pulling on LaBeouf’s backpack for him to stay, and LaBeouf told her that he did not want to become aggressive with her. LaBeouf appeared to be under the influence, the witness said.

After breaking up the fight, a group of locals drove LaBeouf to the airport, Bild reported. While in the car, he allegedly said that if he had stayed, he would have killed Goth, the tabloid reported.

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German press reported that Goth was spotted with a black eye the next day.

A flurry of other legal entanglements have peppered the last decade of LaBeouf’s career, including arrests for disorderly conduct in 2014 and 2017. One incident included a drunken LaBeouf making a racist remark against a Black police officer. LaBeouf has attributed these incidents, including the allegations of abuse, to his alcoholism.

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On Thursday, in a vague email to the Times about his alleged misconduct, LaBeouf wrote: “I’m not in any position to tell anyone how my behavior made them feel. I have no excuses for my alcoholism or aggression, only rationalizations. I have been abusive to myself and everyone around me for years. I have a history of hurting the people closest to me. I’m ashamed of that history and am sorry to those I hurt. There is nothing else I can really say.”

But when confronted with specific allegations made against him, LaBeouf backtracked. In a separate email, he wrote, “many of these allegations are not true” but that his accusers deserved “the opportunity to air their statements publicly” and that he must “accept accountability” for his actions.

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Despite rumors and press reports regarding LaBeouf’s alleged abuse, Hollywood has, predictably, continued to embrace him with open arms. In September, he joined Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, Morgan Freeman, Julia Roberts and others in a charity virtual table reading of Fast Times At Ridgemont High. His antics stole the show, and the beloved actor promptly became meme fodder.

Will he be allowed to come back from this too?

Staff writer, mint chocolate hater.

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“I’m not in any position to tell anyone how my behavior made them feel. I have no excuses for my alcoholism or aggression, only rationalizations. I have been abusive to myself and everyone around me for years. I have a history of hurting the people closest to me. I’m ashamed of that history and am sorry to those I hurt. There is nothing else I can really say.”

But when confronted with specific allegations made against him, LaBeouf backtracked. In a separate email, he wrote, “many of these allegations are not true” but that his accusers deserved “the opportunity to air their statements publicly” and that he must “accept accountability” for his actions.

This is is a genre of a new type of non-apology apology being offered by savvier celebrities, sort of a descendant of “I’m sorry if you were offended.” It sprinkles in some nice language about accountability that isn’t really intended to accept responsibility, but to make the apology look like a real one even as he deflects responsibility and blame and casts aspersions. In about a paragraph’s worth of apology he:

  • Puts the blame for his behavior on alcohol, rather than the fact he is an abusive person (“I have no excuses for my alcoholism...”). If you are an abuser who is an alcoholic, you are both an abuser and an alcoholic, not someone who is only abusive because you drink).
  • Casts himself as a victim of his own behavior (“I have been abusive to myself...”). Hell, by putting himself first on the list of victims, he signals that he thinks he is the primary victim.
  • Casts vague doubt on accounts of his victims (“...many of these allegations are not true).

See also Louis C.K.’s “apology” when his abuses were finally revealed.