Madonna denies that Sean Penn hit her when they were married

Singer has given evidence in a defamation case against 'Empire' TV show co-creator

Madonna has given evidence in favour of ex-husband Sean Penn in a defamation court case the actor has filed against a co-creator of the TV show Empire.

Empire co-creator Lee Daniels recently alleged that Penn had a history of domestic abuse, referring to tabloid reports in the 1980s that he had “struck” ex-wife Madonna during their marriage. Penn and Madonna were married from 1985 to 1989.

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter in September, Daniels defended the show’s star, actor Terrence Howard, who recently admitted to hitting his wife. Daniels said that Howard “ain’t done nothing different than Marlon Brando or Sean Penn” and claimed that the actor was being presented as “some fucking demon” in the press because he is black.

Penn has now issued a $10 million (£6.7 million) defamation lawsuit against Daniels, with Madonna issuing a statement in the suit. In it, the singer describes Penn as “caring and compassionate”.

“I am aware of the allegations that have surfaced over the years accusing Sean of incidents of physical assault and abuse against me,” she writes. “Specifically, I am aware of the allegations concerning an alleged incident that occurred in June 1987, whereby (according to tabloid reports) Sean allegedly struck me with ‘a baseball bat’. I know the allegations in those and other reports to be completely outrageous, malicious and false.”

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“I am also aware of allegations concerning an incident that occurred in December 1989, which purportedly resulted in Sean’s arrest for domestic assault and battery against me. I know those allegations to be false. While we certainly had more than one heated argument during our marriage, Sean has never struck me, ‘tied me up’ or physically assaulted me, and any report to the contrary is completely outrageous, malicious, reckless and false.”

In response, Daniels has defended his comments under free speech guaranteed by the first amendment. He says that Penn’s lawsuit “attempts to silence Daniels’ honestly held opinion, a contribution to the marketplace of ideas voiced during the nation’s agonising debate about racial disparity and domestic violence. The First Amendment abhors attempts to chill speech on hot topics.”

Meanwhile, Madonna has issued a statement following controversy at her Manchester gig earlier this week, which saw the star booed after arriving onstage a hour late.

Madonna played Manchester Arena as part of her ‘Rebel Heart’ tour on Monday night (December 14) with technical difficulties blamed for the singer’s late arrival.

Manchester Evening News reported that fans grew tired of the long wait, with many voicing their anger by booing the star. Madonna later labelled her fans “bitches” following the complaints.

The singer subsequently released a statement via Facebook, in which she confirmed that her video had crashed during soundcheck and that the delay was caused by the wait to reboot.

She also stated that she was fined for going over the venue’s curfew, despite cutting three songs from the setlist.