Sean Penn Suing Empire Co-Creator Lee Daniels For Implying He’s A Wife-Beater

(Daily Mail) – Sean Penn has filed a $10 million defamation suit against director Lee Daniels, who he claims falsely accused him of being a wife beater in a recent interview.

While he has never served time for hitting either of his two wives, Penn’s alleged violence against first-wife Madonna has been widely reported

In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter published last week, Daniels compared the domestic violence histories of both Penn and Empire star Terrence Howard, saying: ‘[Terrence] ain’t done nothing different than Marlon Brando or Sean Penn, and all of a sudden he’s some f*****’ demon. That’s a sign of the time, of race, of where we are right now in America.’

But Penn claims that Daniels was wrong to compare him with Howard – who has admitted to hitting two of his wives.

Sean Penn has filed a $10million defamation lawsuit against director Lee Daniels for comparing him to admitted wife-beater Terrence Howard

The Daily Mail reports, Daniels falsely equates Penn with Howard, even though, while he has certainly had several brushes with the law, Penn (unlike Howard) has never been arrested, much less convicted, for domestic violence, as his ex-wives (including Madonna) would confirm and attest,’ the lawsuit reads. Penn’s lawyer, former federal prosecutor Mathew Rosengart, writes in the lawsuit that as a public figure, the actor has ‘for years been the subject of scandalous, scurrilous, and baseless attacks.

‘But Penn like any citizen, has a right to defend himself and will no longer tolerate the reckless and malicious behavior of others, who seek to aggrandize themselves or their projects at his expense. Accordingly, and because of Daniels’ defamatory statements, Penn brings this action for monetary relief, and to deter Daniels and others from their defamatory actions.’

Penn went on to say that Daniels statements about Howard were ‘egregious’ in the sense that they also seem ‘to condone Howard’s reported misconduct.’ Daniels directs Howard on the Fox hit series Empire.


August 2000 – Howard was arrested in Cleveland after being accused of assaulting a flight attendant when he was asked to return to his seat on a Continental Airlines flight. Howard claimed he was just trying to take his daughter to the bathroom while the airline employee said that passengers had been asked to stay seated with their seat belts fastened. Charges were eventually dropped by the District Attorney.

Howard, pictured on the right at the Emmy’s on Sunday, has been honest about hitting two of his wives

September 2001 – After getting into a telephone argument with wife Lori McCommas, Howard was accused of showing up to her home and kicking down the door before punching her twice in the face. He was only charged with disorderly conduct for the incident despite admitting to kicking down the door and hitting McCommas. Explaining his version of events, Howard said: ‘She was talking to me real strong, and I lost my mind and slapped her in front of the kids.’

March 2005 – While out getting breakfast at Ray’s Dining Car in the Philadelphia suburbs, Danielle DiStefano and US Marine Kevin Saffell were being seated by the hostess when they claim Howard asked why he was not being taken care of first because he was an actor. When DiStefano told Howard they had been first in line, Howard reportedly responded by saying; ‘Fu*k you, I wasn’t talking to you.’ Saffell asked the actor to apologize to DiStefano, which is when Howard punched Saffell in the face and DiStefano in the chest, according to court documents. Once again he pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct.

January 2011 –  February 2012: Howard’s second wife Michelle Ghent was granted a restraining order against the actor in December 2012 after claiming he attacked her just a week into their marriage, punching her in the face. She also alleged he had threatened her life, come after her with a butcher knife, and tried to throw her off a hotel balcony in South Africa. Howard responded by filing his own restraining order against Ghent after suffering ‘constant threats of extortion.’

May 2012: Howard’s girlfriend May Seng Yang told police the star choked her and punched her in the eye before throwing her to the ground during a fight. Howard responded by filing his own suit against Yang for punching him during the fight. The matter was later settled in a private civil suit.

August 2013: Howard was accused of strangling and threatening to kill Ghent while on a trip to Costa Rica. The two had reconciled shortly before and she claimed the attack happened after she said things did not seem to be working out between them. Howard claimed he only hit her because she was trying to Mace him and he didn’t mean to hurt her.

While Penn may never had been officially convicted of domestic assault, violent disputes with his ex-wife Madonna have been widely reported.

In 1987, Penn allegedly struck the pop star across the head with a baseball bat, but she didn’t press charges.

Then, in December 1988, he reportedly tied her to a chair and beat her over a nine-hour period. Madonna escaped when he untied her to use the restroom and she fled to a nearby police station.

Lieutenant Bill McSweeney, who was working at the station at the time, described seeing a battered Madonna in a biography about the pop star by J. Randy Taraborrelli.

‘When Madonna staggered into the station, she was distraught, crying, with makeup smeared all over her face. I hardly recognized her…she had obviously been struck,’ McSweeney said.

But yet again, Madonna withdrew her complaint and the two divorced the following year.

As for Howard, the 46-year-old confessed to domestic abuse in a bizarre interview with Rolling Stone magazine, in which he said he ‘slapped’ and not ‘punched’ his first wife and was acting in self-defense when he beat on his second.

Howard’s first wife Lori McCommas, the mother of three of his children, claimed the Hustle & Flow star ‘punched her twice with a closed fist’ in a 2001 incident, according to a police report.

The couple, who wed in 1989, divorced in 2003, remarried in 2005 and divorced again in 2007 after which it was revealed the actor had pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct as a result of the 2001 altercation.

seanHe explained in his interview with Rolling Stone that McCommas had provoked him.

‘She was talking to me real strong, and I lost my mind and slapped her in front of the kids,’ he said.

‘Her lawyer said it was a closed fist, but even slapping her was wrong.’

His second wife Michelle Ghent won a restraining order against him after claiming he had been physically abusive towards her as well as threatening and staling her.

In 2013, after rekindling their relationship, Ghent claimed he’d struck her, giving her a black eye, and tried to strangle her while they were vacationing in Costa Rica.

‘She was trying to Mace me,’ he told Rolling Stone when asked about it.

‘You can’t see anything so all you can do is try to bat somebody away, and I think that something caught her. But I wasn’t trying to hit her,’ he claimed.

lee and terranceA former girlfriend May Seng Yang wrote in a statement to police that Howard choked her and punched her in the eye before throwing her to the ground in 2012 after she accused him of giving her herpes.

The actor reciprocated by filing assault charges against Yang and they both eventually dropped their cases, settling the matter in civil court.

It’s not just the women in his life who have been on the receiving end of his temper.

In 2005, he once again pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct after knocking a man to the ground and hitting a woman after they got into an argument at a restaurant.

terranceHoward was accused of trying to cut the line in front of the pair, sparking the confrontation.

He said he wasn’t even in the line and had simply gone to ask about the wait time for a table and that he had acted in self-defense.

In 2000, a Continental Airlines flight attendant claimed the Crash star had assaulted her. The charges were eventually dropped.

But pubic opinion about his violent run-ins also, it seems, led him to accept his current critically-acclaimed role as Lucious Lyon in the Fox TV series Empire.

He told Rolling Stone simply: ‘Since they see me as a bad guy, I’m gonna play a bad guy.’


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