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‘Real Housewives’ Star Accused of Defamation

LOS ANGELES (CN) - "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" cast member Danielle Staub has been hit with a defamation suit from her ex-husband, who claims she spread lies to People magazine that he raped her, killed her dog, and stuck a handgun inside her and "played Russian roulette" during their short-lived marriage.

Staub and plaintiff Kevin Maher were married in 1988, but the couple got divorced a year later.

This May, Staub joined the cast of Bravo's "The Real Housewives of New Jersey," a show following the drama of five affluent Jersey Girls.

Maher claims Staub accused him of "untrue criminal acts" in her June interview with People magazine.

She allegedly told the nationally circulated publication that Maher had "raped [her] on a bed of broken glass," that he "inserted his handgun inside of [her] and played Russian roulette, and that he killed her dog "by way of hanging."

On the June 24 reunion episode, Maher says Staub threatened him, suggesting that her fans and friends would protect her, and stating that Maher was "going down."

Maher and his current wife, Maribel, are suing Staub for defamation and intentional infliction of emotion distress, claiming the lies forced them to "endure great mental anguish, shock, humiliation, and fear for their lives."

Represented by Thomas Rockett III in Superior Court, the Mahers demand special, general and punitive damages.

On June 23, The Smoking Gun unearthed federal court documents showing that Staub, formerly known as Beverly Ann Merrill, had a criminal record, including a 1986 arrest for her alleged role in a drug-related kidnapping plot. She was indicted on eight felony charges, but pleaded guilty to a single count of extortion in exchange for agreeing to become an FBI informant. She was sentenced to five years' probation and drug rehab.

One FBI agent also testified that Merrill had worked as an escort in the Miami area, according to court documents.

In her interview with People, Staub claimed that the records from her criminal past were "sealed," and that she had been charged as an "accessory."

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