Jim Carrey Alleges Extortion, Blames Former Girlfriend's Mother and Lawyer for Her Death

The actor is fighting claims arising from Cathriona White's apparent suicide in 2015.
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Jim Carrey is fighting back against ugly accusations that he's responsible for the suicide of his former girlfriend Cathriona White.

Both White's mother, Brigid Sweetman, and her husband, Mark Burton, blame Carrey for White's 2015 death and are suing him. In an explosive cross-complaint filed Friday, Carrey's attorney, Raymond Boucher, claims the lawsuit is nothing more than an attempt to exploit the public vulnerability of a famous actor. The court in May overruled Carrey’s demurrer to the complaint, setting the stage for an April 2018 trial.

Among other claims are allegations that the actor gave White the drugs that killed her. Carrey says White received Oxycodone and Zofran a few weeks before her death following a breast-augmentation corrective surgery, and later that month, she got a prescription for Vicodin. He also claims she obtained some of his pills by taking them secretly from his home.

"A handful of lawyers represent people willing to make false or misleading allegations designed to coerce successful celebrities into settling threatened litigation in order to avoid embarrassment from publication of the overly embellished (if not outright false) claims," writes Boucher.

He's not just talking about the lawsuits at hand. According to the filing, White herself extorted Carrey years ago with the help of friend and attorney Filippo Marchino. In 2013, they threatened to "go to the press" with allegations that Carrey gave White herpes I and II unless he paid her millions.

"At the time, Cat and Marchino knew the claim was false and knew the mere allegation would impact Jim and his career," writes Boucher. "Rather than engage in a protracted and expensive public battle, Jim, as many in his position do, succumbed to the demands and privately resolved the issue with Cat and her lawyer."

Carrey and White's relationship was tumultuous from the start. When they began dating in the summer of 2012, White was living in the country illegally and without a steady income. That fall, her father died of brain cancer, and she was unable to travel to Ireland to attend the funeral because of her immigration status.

"After her father's death, Cat began pressuring Jim to marry her," writes Boucher, adding that the actor considered it and even went as far as having an attorney draft a prenup before deciding he couldn't go through with it. "To him, 'it felt fraudulent,' but he indicated to Cat a willingness to continue to date and support her, including helping her retain an immigration attorney to assist her in obtaining legal residency."

But, according to the actor's suit, she wouldn't drop it. She continued to push the idea, even sending him a text noting that "Cathriona Anne Carrey" sounded good. He asked her to ease off, but she became bitter and took his decision as rejection. They continued to date, and Carrey financially supported her while trying to help her pursue a photography career. The pressure to marry continued to mount, and in January 2013, Carrey ended the relationship, believing White needed to "develop her own identity and get her life in order."

In response, White allegedly tried to commit suicide, but Carrey isn't convinced that's true. "Although evidence strongly suggests her claimed suicide attempt was a fabrication, she did tell her therapist, Cynthia Cohen, and a few friends about the alleged attempt," writes Boucher. "If they believed her, they did absolutely nothing to help her."

Days later, White took a bus to Las Vegas, where she married Burton. Carrey contends it was "solely for the purpose [of] obtaining her residency in the United States," that she paid him $30,000 to do it and that Burton continued "hooking up" with one of White's friends after they married. She didn't tell Carrey about the suicide attempt or the wedding, according to the cross-complaint.

Then came the STD claims. White got a "wax job" that caused "irritation and bumps under her arms and in her vaginal area," and she texted Burton a picture of her underarm and said "you should see the state of my vagina." Days later, she texted Carrey about the bumps and said she was concerned about STDs. She then saw a doctor and told Carrey she was "clean." The couple briefly reconciled before splitting again after Valentine's Day. It was soon after that Marchino demanded millions on her behalf in order to keep quiet about the STD claim, says Carrey. The actor claims White and her attorney knew she had herpes before meeting him and unlawfully extorted him, according to the filing.

Carrey and White didn't speak for more than a year. Then, in November 2014, White sent a text saying she had heard their song on the radio and that she missed him and was a changed woman. Carrey believed she had been pressured into making the false accusations by Marchino and Cohen and decided to give her another chance.

They fell in love again and were working out a cohabitation agreement during the summer of 2015. She turned 30 on Sept. 14, 2015, and Carrey says she was "happy and forward thinking" until her mother, Sweetman, sent her a Facebook message "telling her she was worthless and would never amount to anything," which left her crushed.

Around the same time, Carrey and White's living together hit a snag because of a dispute over a nondisclosure and confidentiality provision, which the actor felt was necessary, given the 2013 incident.

"While Cat seemed happy for the most part during the weeks leading up to her death, she was nonetheless burdened by her mother's birthday message, by the anniversary of her father's death, and particularly by the weight and guilt of her prior false claims against Jim and how deeply that had hurt him," writes Boucher. "The conduct of Cross-Defendants in assisting and facilitating her prior false claims and its direct impediment and impact on her lawyer's negotiation of the co-habitation agreement was a direct and legal result of her serious mental and emotional distress, causing injury and harm to Ms. White and meaningfully contributed to her taking her own life."

Carrey is suing Marchino and The X-Law Group for extortion and implied indemnity. He's also suing Sweetman for implied indemnity, alleging that White's depression was a result of her traumatic childhood, and is seeking claims of total equitable indemnity, apportionment of fault and comparative contribution against all the cross-defendants.

Burton and Sweetman's attorney, Michael Avenatti, sent The Hollywood Reporter a comment in response to the cross-complaint: "Jim Carrey is so desperate to avoid the public knowing the truth about his own outrageous conduct, that he has now resorted to outlandish accusations against innocent people. As his interview from a few weeks ago shows, the guy is incoherent and unhinged. He needs help."

Carrey on Friday issued this statement: "Today I filed a cross-complaint against Filippo Marchino, The X Law Group, Mark Burton and Brigid Sweetman. Unfortunately, I made the mistake three years ago of giving in and settling false claims made against me by Mr. Marchino, on behalf of Cat, as mounting a public defense is a very costly and painful process. At the time I felt Cat was being exploited by Marchino. Since this new case was filed, I have discovered the depth of deception behind those false claims, the kind of deception decent people fall for, because to us, such behavior is unimaginable. I will not give in a second time to these same fraudulent charges initiated by Cat's husband in name but not substance Mark Burton, and her estranged mother. Nor am I responsible for what these desperate characters have inadvertently unearthed about the woman I adored. I was clearly blinded by my affection. Regardless, I will hold a place of empathy, and forgiveness for Cat and continue to focus on the many blessings in this life."

This week marks the second anniversary of White's death.