Shia LaBeouf Sued by FKA Twigs for Sexual Battery, Citing Abusive Relationship

FKA Twigs has sued her ex-boyfriend, Shia LaBeouf, accusing the actor of sexual battery, assault and infliction of emotional distress.

The musician, who filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court, and the actor had dated for about one year in 2018 and 2019, after working together on the film, “Honey Boy.”

“Shia LaBeouf hurts women,” states the lawsuit, obtained by Variety. “He uses them. He abuses them, both physically and mentally. He is dangerous.”

LaBeouf once slammed the musician against a car and attempted to strangle her, according to the lawsuit, as she was “trying to escape from one of his manic tirades.” LaBeouf also knowingly infected FKA Twigs with an STD, according to the public filing.

Variety has reached out to representatives for LaBeouf, who could not immediately be reached.

FKA Twigs, born Tahliah Barnett, entered into a “tumultuous” relationship with LaBeouf, after wrapping the film “Honey Boy,” which he co-wrote, inspired by his childhood and relationship with his father. Her life became a “living nightmare,” according to the lawsuit, which says LaBeouf groomed her, “gradually gaining Tahliah’s trust and confidence with the intent of abusing her,” and then engaged in a “continuous stream” of verbal and mental abuse, “belittling” and “berating” her, which soon turned physical and “increasingly violent.”

The lawsuit lays out a slew of horrific allegations, ranging from verbal to physical abuse.

The plaintiff’s attorney, Bryan Freedman, tells Variety that he and his client tried to resolve the matter privately “on the condition that Mr. LaBeouf agree to receive meaningful and consistent psychological treatment.” In a statement, the lawyer says, “Since he was unwilling to agree to get appropriate help, Ms. Barnett filed this suit to prevent others from unknowingly suffering similar abuse by him.”

The suit alleges that LaBeouf admitted to an incident around Valentine’s Day 2019 when he forcibly slammed the musician against his car, trying to strangle her, and telling “another woman, whom he was cheating on Tahliah with at the time, that he had dragged Tahliah out of his car by her collar.”

LaBeouf also allegedly kept guns at home to keep his then-girlfriend in a “constant state of fear.

In regards to the STD, the suit accuses LaBeouf of transmitting the disease to other unsuspecting women, as well. “Simply put, LaBeouf’s reckless disregard for the health and safety of his partners makes him a danger to women everywhere,” the lawsuit states.

FKA Twigs allegedly tried to diffuse the torment, along with another one of LaBeouf’s former girlfriends, stylist Karolyn Pho, by suggesting he seek help for his mental health and substance abuse. She also asked him to make a donation to a violence shelter.

“In response to this peaceful overture, LaBeouf played games and downplayed the seriousness of the situation,” the suit states, adding that LaBeouf’s attorney “cruelly dismissed the sexually transmitted disease LaBeouf had infected Tahliah with as ‘not that bad.’”

LaBeouf also threatened to embarrass her with personal text messages and other information, “clearly [hoping] to terror Tahliah into submission and keep her from taking any further action,” her lawyer writes. “LaBeouf’s scare tactics will not work. He has no power over Tahliah anymore.”

La Beouf, a child star who rose to fame as a teenager on the Disney Channel’s “Even Stevens,” has garnered both mainstream and indie success, from “The Transformers” franchise and “Indiana Jones” to recent critically-acclaimed films like “The Peanut Butter Falcon” and “Honey Boy.”

He has also has a long history of legal issues. Over the course of his career, his erratic behavior has played out in the news, including a heated altercation in Germany in 2015 between him and his on-and-off girlfriend, Mia Goth, where in leaked video footage, LaBeouf nearly turned violent and was heard saying, “If I’d have stayed there, I would have killed her.”

The new lawsuit claims that LaBeouf’s string of legal problems have been dismissed in the entertainment industry, and the actor — who is known for his performance art, and once wore a bag over his head to a red carpet premiere — has essentially gotten a free pass, due to his offbeat, artistic nature.

“For too long, LaBeouf has sought to excuse his reprehensible actions as the eccentricities of a free-thinking ‘artist,’” the lawsuit states. “Even though his history of violent behavior was well-documented, many in the media have treated LaBeouf as a harmless figure of fun, which has helped enable him to perpetuate his cycle of abuse of women over the years. There is nothing funny about the exploitation of and battering of women.”

This past September, LaBeouf was charged with misdemeanor battery and petty theft for an altercation with a man in June 2020. In 2014, he was arrested at Studio 54 in New York City for public drunkenness and disorderly conduct. After the incident, the actor voluntarily entered treatment for alcoholism. In 2017, he was arrested in Savannah, Georgia for public intoxication, disorderly conduct and obstruction with camera footage showing the actor making racial remarks to a police officer, during his arrest, which he later apologized for, citing his alcohol addiction. He was sentenced to a year of probation and to seek therapy to manage his anger and substance abuse issues.

The lawsuit states that FKA Twigs is suing her ex-boyfriend to help other women, not for monetary reasons.

“This action has been brought not for personal gain, but to set the record straight, and to help ensure that no more women must undergo the abuse that Shia LaBeouf has inflicted on his prior romantic partners,” according to the lawsuit. “The days in which LaBeouf can mistreat and harm women with impunity are over.”

FKA Twigs broke into the entertainment industry as a dancer, appearing in videos by Ed Sheeran, Kylie Minogue and Jessie J, while simultaneously working on her music career. She released her debut “EP1” late in 2012, and quickly garnered major media attention. Her sound — which combines her high and breathy vocals with electronics and slow, often heavy beats — has evolved over three EPs and two full-length albums, and her most recent, 2019’s “Magdalene,” saw her collaborating with hitmakers such as Benny Blanco and Jack Antonoff. The English musician, who danced with Usher during his Prince tribute at the 2020 Grammy Awards, is equally renowned as a dancer and visual artist, via her own videos and a 2016 dance film she directed called “Soundtrack 7.” She has also appeared in several ads, including one for Nike and a popular and critically-praised 2018 spot for Apple’s HomePod directed by Spike Jonze. 

In the era of #MeToo, which began a Hollywood reckoning in 2017, many women have since come forward with allegations of sexual abuse and harassment, stating they often did not report incidents to the police and other law enforcement because fear of retaliation. As the movement garnered mainstream attention, thanks to former Hollywood A-listers and powerful executives being outed, the public has started to reframe language surrounding sexual assault with a slowing-growing, yet newfound understanding, that abuse can occur even between partners in a relationship or marriage.

FKA Twigs’ suit states that she refuses to be labeled as a victim, and instead, “has triumphed over LaBeouf’s abuse and stands ready to hold him accountable for his actions.”

Jem Aswad and Gene Maddaus contributed to this report.

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