Britney Spears Compares Her Father to a Sex Trafficker, Asks to End Conservatorship
The pop star testified on Wednesday and gave a heartbreaking, detailed account of her life under an “abusive” conservatorship: “I want the public to hear me.”
Britney Spears is not holding back. On Wednesday, the pop star testified before the Los Angeles court about the conservatorship that has ruled her life and finances since 2008. For a moment, it appeared the hearing might be delayed; last year, Zoombombers derailed a Spears hearing, and this year the court’s audio feed crashed as countless fans flooded the site. Soon enough, however, it was Spears’ chance to speak, and her fiery message was both heart-rending and shocking as she asked to end her conservatorship.
“All I would honestly like is to sue my family [and] share my story with the world,” Spears said, per the Independent. She added later, “I truly believe this conservatorship is abusive. I don’t feel like I can live a full life.”
In a statement that ran 24 minutes, Spears said that she’s had to live a lie in public. “I’m not happy,” she said. “I can’t sleep. I’m so angry, it’s insane. And I’m depressed. I cry every day.”
Spears also compared her father, James, who was once conservator of both her person and finances and retains control over her estate along with the Bessemer Trust, to a sex trafficker, according to BuzzFeed alum Jarrett Wieselman. Spears said her father loved the control he was able to exert over her. “He loved the control he had over me,” she said, “one hundred thousand percent.”
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Spears also said she was forced to take lithium against her will, per Consequence of Sound. “It’s a strong drug,” she said. “You can go mentally impaired if you stay on it longer than 5 months... I felt drunk, I couldn’t even have a conversation with my mom or dad about anything. They had me with six different nurses.”
Another dark revelation: Spears claimed her conservators are preventing her from getting married and having a baby. “I have an IUD inside of myself so that I don’t get pregnant, but [my team doesn’t] want me to have any more children,” she said, per The Independent.
Additionally, Spears said she wanted the power to choose her own attorney; Ingham III reportedly agreed to accept any guidance the court provides regarding his possible replacement.
“This conservatorship is doing me way more harm than good,” Spears said. I deserve to have a life.”
Spears’ conservatorship has become an increasingly pervasive topic of conversation over the years, especially after the singer abruptly canceled her “Domination” Las Vegas residency in January of 2019. She’s been on an indefinite performing hiatus ever since, and has not sung live since 2018.
Earlier this year, The New York Times released Framing Britney Spears, a documentary that examined her rise to fame, the callous treatment she later received from both the media and public, and the fan-led movement that’s spent years speaking out on her behalf.
The tension between Spears and her father, James (widely known as “Jamie”) has been well documented. In 2008 Jamie became the conservator of his daughter’s finances and person—meaning he was in charge of both her considerable estate and her personal life. Jamie stepped down as conservator of his daughter’s person in 2019, but remains co-conservator of her finances alongside the Bessemer Trust. The conservatorship has gradually become a more public inflection point in Britney and Jamie’s fraught relationship—and as revealed in newly surfaced court documents, Spears has been struggling to wrest control away from her father for years.
The New York Times reported Tuesday that Spears began quietly pushing to end her father’s control over her life as early as 2014, citing his drinking among other complaints. She eventually expressed a desire to end the arrangement completely. Court documents indicate that Spears said her father was “obsessed” with controlling her life, the Times reports, from requiring approval over her friendships to refusing to let her restain her kitchen cabinets, citing the cost.
Representatives for Jamie Spears declined the Times’ request for comment. “Any time Britney wants to end her conservatorship, she can ask her lawyer to file a petition to terminate it; she has always had this right but in 13 years has never exercised it,” Vivian Lee Thoreen, a lawyer for Mr. Spears, told People magazine earlier this year. “Britney knows that her Daddy loves her, and that he will be there for her whenever and if she needs him, just as he always has been—conservatorship or not.”
Fissures between Jamie Spears, his daughter, and those in her orbit have also emerged in the gossip sphere. In the summer of 2019 Kevin Federline, Spears’ ex husband and the father of her two children, alleged in a police report that Jamie Spears got into a physical altercation with 13-year-old Sean Preston and physically abused him by violently shaking him after breaking down a door to reach him. Federline and Spears’ younger son, Jayden, allegedly witnessed the incident.
The boys were granted a restraining order, and in the spring of 2020 Jayden called his grandfather a “big dick” during an Instagram Live session. Federline’s attorney, Mark Vincent Kaplan, said in a statement that Jayden had been “acting as if [he was] a 13-year-old” and that Federline was “addressing it as you would expect a responsible parent to address it… We wouldn't anticipate seeing any further posts like that again.”
Evidently, however, Jayden isn’t the only person in Britney Spears’ orbit to feel this way about her father. The singer’s boyfriend, personal trainer Sam Asghari, used the same word earlier this year in the wake of Framing Britney’s release.
“Now it’s important for people to understand that I have zero respect for someone trying to control our relationship and constantly throwing obstacles in our way,” Asghari wrote in an Instagram story. “In my opinion Jamie is a total dick.”
The most telling testimony, however, comes from Spears herself.
In 2019, the Times notes, the singer alleged in court that she had been forced to perform with a 104-degree fever—and that after standing up for herself during a rehearsal, she was forced into a mental health facility on exaggerated pretenses. That year Jamie Spears stepped down as conservator of Spears’ person due to health complications, and Jodi Montgomery stepped in as a temporary replacement.
But Spears’ most powerful statement against her father came last fall, through her attorney. As Spears pushed to remove Jamie as conservator of her person, her attorney Samuel D. Ingham III told the Los Angeles court, “My client has informed me that she is afraid of her father. She will not perform again if her father is in charge of her career.”
A judge temporarily denied Spears’ request to remove her father but granted her request to appoint the Bessemer Trust as co-conservator of her estate; this March Spears petitioned to make Montgomery’s position permanent.
Per the Times, a court investigator who spoke with Spears wrote in a 2016 report that the singer had “articulated she feels the conservatorship has become an oppressive and controlling tool against her,” and that the system had “too much control… Too, too much!” She faced “very harsh” consequences for any missteps, the report said, and Spears said the guardianship itself “comes with a lot of fear.”