‘Empire’ Star’s Ex Claims Assault in New Suit

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – The ex-wife of “Empire” star Terrence Howard claims in state court that the actor assaulted her and defamed her by telling media outlets she had threatened him on social media.
     Michelle Howard – who divorced the 46-year-old Academy Award nominee in 2013 – filed suit in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Tuesday. She is suing Howard for assault and battery, infliction of emotional distress and defamation.
     In her eight-page complaint, Michelle Howard claims the “Empire” star assaulted her in 2013 while vacationing in Costa Rica.
     “On the evening of July 29, 2013, defendant Terrence Howard could not control his anger, became verbally abusive, and then followed plaintiff into the restroom of the rental house and punched her on the left side of her face,” Michelle Howard says in her complaint.
     “Defendant also grabbed plaintiff by her neck and pushed her against the bathroom wall and strangled her for several seconds,” the complaint says.
     Michelle Howard adds that she could not free or defend herself because she is 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 100 pounds, which Terrence Howard is 6 feet 1 inch tall and weighs 210.
     Terrence Howard’s son-in-law, Billy, eventually intervened, according to the complaint.
     “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’s what I’m going to do,’ referring to a prior instance where defendant told plaintiff that her body would never leave the island. Plaintiff interpreted the reference to mean that defendant was going to kill her,” Michelle Howard says in the complaint.
     She says the assault continued as she packed to leave the rental house, adding that despite having pepper-sprayed Terrence Howard, “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 with strong blows,” the complaint says.
     Michelle Howard says she suffered swelling and bruising to her face, arm and elbow and felt pain “all over her body” because of the alleged assault.
     She also claims Terrence Howard defamed her by telling “media outlets that plaintiff had made death threats and other threats against defendant and his family through various social-media accounts.”
     The accusations are false and none of the social-media accounts belong to Michelle Howard, the lawsuit says.
     According to the Hollywood Reporter, Terrence Howard was arrested in 2001 for assaulting his then-wife. He pleaded guilty to disturbing the peace in 2002, the Smoking Gun reported.
     Judges have twice granted Michelle Howard retraining orders against Terrence Howard, in 2011 and following the Costa Rica incident in August 2013.
     She seeks unspecified compensatory, punitive and exemplary damages, and is represented by Sa’id Vakili of the LA firm Vakili Leus.

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