6:23pm PT by Austin Siegemund-Broka
Terrence Howard Sued for Assault, Defamation by Ex-Wife
Terrence Howard's ex-wife filed suit against the actor Tuesday claiming he assaulted her in 2013.
In the civil complaint filed in Los Angeles, Michelle Howard claims the alleged assault took place while they were staying in a rental house in Costa Rica.
The complaint describes that on the evening of July 29, 2013, Howard "followed Plaintiff into the restroom of the rental house and punched her on the left side of her face. Defendant also grabbed Plaintiff by her neck and pushed her against the bathroom wall and strangled her for several seconds," states the complaint. The filing continues he "grabbed her neck again and pinned her against the shower glass and her head hit the wall" when she tried to flee the room, leading the actor's son-in-law Billy to intervene.
"While Billy tried to pry Defendant's hands from Plaintiff's neck, Defendant whispered to Plaintiff, 'Remember what I told you in Bora Bora? That is what I'm gonna do,' referring to a prior instance where Defendant told Plaintiff that her body would never leave the island," states the complaint. "Plaintiff interpreted the reference to mean that Defendant was going to kill her."
Later on the evening of July 29, claims Michelle, he charged at her and she pepper-sprayed him in the face. "Defendant continued swinging his arms and caused Plaintiff to fall down. While Plaintiff was on the ground, Defendant repeatedly mule-kicked Plaintiff in the head and shoulders," states the complaint.
She claims assault and battery, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. In the same complaint, she claims he defamed her by "mak[ing] false accusations disseminated to the public through the media that Plaintiff had made death threats and other threats against Defendant and his family through various social media accounts."
She doesn't specify damages.
This is not the first time the Empire star has been accused of spousal abuse. He was arrested in 2001 on charges of assaulting his then-wife Lori McCommas, and in Michelle's 2011 divorce papers she claimed he repeatedly threatened and hit her throughout their marriage. In 2013, she received a restraining order against him on claims including the allegations regarding the Costa Rica trip in the Tuesday complaint.
Howard and executives for Fox, which airs Empire, were questioned about the accusations at the Television Critics Association's winter tour in January. Fox TV group chairs Dana Walden and Gary Newman claimed they weren't aware of the accusations until December 2014, when they were already in business with him. "A lot of the things I did were the product of not knowing how to deal with frustration, not knowing who Terrence Howard is," said the actor. "I've grown so much from anything that's happened in the past."
The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to Howard's reps for comment.