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Instead, the actor seems to be treating the case as a publicity campaign to revise the predominant narrative about his behavior toward women in general and Madonna in particular.This strategy has already produced immense dividends for Penn’s public image, most recently in the form of a sworn affidavit, signed by Madonna Louise Ciccone on October 7 and filed in court last week, in which the singer wrote, “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.”It’s not immediately clear how the Supreme Court of New York County will weigh Madonna’s declaration, given that she signed it Daniels compared Penn to Howard.Some of the headlines from those exhibits are damning.Here’s one from piece, which was published earlier this year, is an instructive example.Since the late Eighties, numerous media outlets have alleged, with varying degrees of specificity and confidence, that Penn is guilty of assaulting—in some versions, torturing—his ex-wife of four years, Madonna. The questions surrounding these allegations, which center on a mysterious altercation between the ex-couple at their Malibu home in late 1988, are now receiving a wave of fresh attention thanks to the same papers, Penn’s lawyers took pains to clarify that he “has never been arrested, much less convicted, for domestic violence.”Considering the established facts of the case and legal precedent, it is unlikely that Penn will be able to prove in court that Daniels knowingly defamed him.(The allegedly defamatory speech consisted of Daniels’ oblique comparison, during an , between Penn and the actor Terrence Howard, who has been repeatedly accused of beating up women.) But prevailing against Daniels does not appear to be the primary aim of Penn’s lawsuit.
But it is also a matter of record, if you consider mainstream news outlets the “record,” that those violent tendencies extended to Madonna.Indeed, attorneys for Daniels recently submitted 18 separate exhibits (including copies of six articles, scans for three different Madonna biographies, and a reproduction of a Google search for “Sean Penn domestic violence”), which give the clear impression, separately or combined, that Penn has a history of domestic violence.It noted two major allegations: 1) Penn “hi[t Madonna] across the head with a baseball bat” in June 1987, and 2) Penn bound Madonna with a lamp cord before he “smacked and roughed [Madonna] up” for nine hours in December 1989.For the first allegation, The Daily Beast cited a February 2013 “No more free passes to famous men who abuse women,” whose author stated: “Once, Madonna was hospitalized after Penn struck her with a baseball bat.
Sean Penn goes by a number of honorifics: actor, journalist, philanthropist, activist, humanitarian.At scattered points throughout his career, however, reporters and biographers have branded him with a much less noble title: wife beater.