Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 24th 2015 Contents B32
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Monday, August 24, 2015
Terrence Howard needed a
He stood up from his seat,
declared "I m angry right now"
and, with permission, stepped
out of the room. Howard wasn t
channeling Lucious Lyon, his
character from the smash Fox
series Empire. Instead, he was
undergoing tough questioning in
a Los Angeles courtroom by an
attorney for his second ex-wife
about allegations of violence,
some dating back 15 years.
The re-examination of old ---
and new --- allegations against
Howard comes at a sensitive time
for the resurgent actor, who took
time away from the Empire set
last week to spend three days in
court trying to undo a divorce
settlement that entitles his ex-
wife to a share of his earnings.
It also comes at a time when
the public is interested in the cir-
cumstances of old allegations
against celebrities, such as accu-
sations about years of sexual
abuse by comedian Bill Cosby.
The judge is expected to render
a decision in Howard s case on
But regardless of the outcome,
the ruling will likely lead to more
legal fighting between Howard
and ex-wife Michelle Ghent, who
has accused the Oscar-nominated
actor of abusing her multiple
times and has an active restrain-
ing order against him. The actor
contends she extorted him into
signing a lopsided 2012 divorce
Howard s efforts to cut his
financial commitments to Ghent
forced him to revisit what his
attorney called a low point in his
career and life. Within the span
of a couple hours last week,
Howard shifted from tearfully
recounting threats Ghent made
to him to leak private informa-
tion, including years of phone
sex conversations with other
women and a video of him danc-
ing naked in a bathroom, to bris-
tling at questions that focused
on his arrests.
The actor told a judge that he
feared the release of the infor-
mation at the time would have
ended his acting career.
Admissions by Howard that he
was unfaithful to Ghent during
their engagement and acknowl-
edging he struck his first wife in
anger are unlikely to hurt his
standing on the show or with its
His Empire character is a big-
oted, homophobic music mogul
who hits his children, and antic-
ipation remains high for the
series return on September 23.
"It depends who you are, who
you play, what your character is,"
said Howard Bragman, a veteran
Hollywood publicist and vice
chairman of Reputation.com.
"Terrence Howard is going to
get beyond this," he said. "I think
it can be personally humiliating,
I think it can be embarrassing.
Nobody likes their private life and
these moments splayed out there,
but he ll be fine."
Empire producers say there was
no disruption in filming as a
result of Howard s absence.
The hit series comes after some
lean years for Howard. Despite
an Oscar nomination for 2005 s
Hustle & Flow and a role in the
original Iron Man, but was
replaced with Don Cheadle in the
He married Ghent, a massage
therapist, in January 2010, but
she filed for divorce a year later.
She accused him of physically
abusing her and obtained a
restraining order, which she later
The pair s tumultuous rela-
tionship included several recon-
ciliation attempts even after they
were officially divorced in 2013.
Howard testified that he twice
threatened to harm himself to
preserve his relationship with
Ghent, telling her at one point
he would swallow a bottle of pills
if she broke up with him and on
another occasion that he would
throw himself off a balcony after
they fought over him kissing
actress Jennifer Hudson on a
Within days of marrying his
third and now former wife, Mira
Pak, in 2013, Howard again pro-
fessed his love to Ghent, accord-
ing to audio her attorneys played
in court on Monday.
The recording contradicted
Howard s earlier testimony that
he had only married Ghent
because she had been blackmail-
ing him over the recordings.
The hearing, scheduled in
response to a motion by Howard s
lawyers, included lengthy ques-
tioning about incidents in which
the actor was arrested on alle-
gations of abuse.
In 2000, Howard was arrested
after a flight attendant accused
him of grabbing her after an argu-
ment over whether he could take
his young daughter to the bath-
room. Charges were not pursued.
The actor acknowledged hitting
his first wife in 2001, saying he
"kicked down the door and
smacked her." He said it was the
"only time I ve struck a woman"
when it wasn t self-defense.
He denied abusing Ghent, tes-
tifying that if he hit her it was
in self-defense and he had never
choked her, as she has alleged.
Lewis did not hear Ghent s ver-
sion of events because her attor-
neys did not file a sworn state-
ment from her before the hearing.
"I regret that I m not hearing
from her," Superior Court Judge
Thomas Trent Lewis told her
attorneys. He acknowledged early
in the proceedings that a lot of
money was at stake as a result
of his ruling.
Ghent and Howard aren t the
only ones interested in the out-
come of Monday s ruling. Twen-
tieth Century Fox, which pro-
duces Empire, has asked another
judge to figure out whether the
actor or his ex-wife is entitled to
more than US$50,000 of his
earnings from the show. (AP)
From witness chair, Terrence
Howard forced to confront past
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