A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE
How Is Serial Abuser Charlie Sheen Surviving the 2017 Hollywood Purge?
When #MeToo and a violent documented history is part of your ‘brand,’ who knows if you’ll ever be held accountable for your heinous actions.
With every day bringing new and more salacious allegations against Hollywood elite—and celebrity Twitter profiles going dark, private or disappearing entirely—there is one accused man who seems to survive no matter what. This is what he has always done. Because he is Charlie Sheen. Charlie Sheen is on a drug called Charlie Sheen. Charlie Sheen doesn’t answer to consequences the way the rest of us do. No, instead, it’s fodder for a Comedy Central Roast. It’s an opportunity for a new F/X series. It’s prime real estate on TMZ.com.
Perhaps it’s time America just gave up and admitted it: Charlie Sheen is our nation’s crazy, self-destructive, sometimes violent clown. Now, as a tabloid report in The National Enquirer emerges accusing him of raping the deceased actor Corey Haim three decades ago, it’s a reprehensible allegation, to be sure, and one vehemently denied by the actor, but it’s not a career-ending one. Because nothing seems to be for Charlie Sheen.
“It’s kind of like OJ, he gets away with murder,” theorizes one of Charlie’s former lovers, Kacey Jordan, who became notorious in 2011 for telling her story of a raucous coke-filled orgy right before he became very ill and then went on a celebrity breakdown tour with interviews and a nationwide traveling road show. “Charlie gets away with, you know, being the party boy and whatnot of Hollywood. I think that just somewhat falls in the line that it makes it OK when it’s probably in fact, of course, not.”
After emailing Charlie Sheen’s agent to discuss his long and documented history of violence and violent threats—along with the new tabloid accusation—the law firm of Bernard & Bernard reached out to provide a defense of their new client and an explanation that he has in fact paid the price for his past sins and is no longer the man he once was. As one of the most famous A-listers represented by notorious Hollywood pitbull lawyer Martin Singer (Sheen once said of Singer: “Marty Singer might be the only person who’s fucked more people in Hollywood than I have”), Sheen’s transition to another law firm is surprising.
After the tabloid report emerged last week about Sheen and Haim, a “categorical” denial was issued from a Charlie Sheen representative, which lawyer Shane Bernard said did not come from their office.
“What actually happened was somebody made an initial statement,” Shane Bernard said by telephone. “We actually have no idea who that was. I work with Charlie, his finance guy, with his whole crew, and we don’t know... I haven’t been able to figure out. Charlie has no idea. His finance manager has no idea. So we’re all in the dark about it.”
Does Marty Singer not represent Sheen anymore?
“Not in regards to this matter,” Bernard said. Singer did not return a phone call or email confirming the change in representation.
Bernard then emailed on behalf of Sheen: “The accusations by Dominic [sic] Brascia against my client are outright lies. Mr. Sheen vehemently denies these allegations, which allegedly occurred over 30 years ago. These statements are not only offensive, but disturbing as well. The idea that Mr. Brascia would use this time to gain attention by defaming the dead and accusing Mr. Sheen in the process is not only malicious, but hurtful to both Sheen and to the estate of Corey Haim. Lies of this nature will not be tolerated. We will take all actions necessary to make an example of Mr. Brascia. We have no doubt that these statements will be retracted, whether it be done voluntarily or through the court.”
Just the other day on Dr. Oz, Corey Haim’s mother Judy said that it was not Charlie Sheen who raped her son and that he had never been raped but that he had “a form of sex” with the man who was the main source (the tabloid claims to have contacted 100 people over the course of a five-year investigation) in the National Enquirer story: actor Dominick Brascia. (Dr. Oz then informed her that this would qualify as statutory rape.)
“I would have known if anything was wrong,” Judy Haim told Dr. Oz of her son’s time on the movie Lucas. “When my son was 13, he’s not going to go and ask Charlie Sheen to go and sleep with him.”
Meanwhile Corey Feldman, Haim’s old pal, is tweeting links like, “AT LEAST THEY R READING MY LETTER: Is Feldman Hinting at Charlie Sheen Death Threats in Open Letter to Hollywood?”
Sheen’s ex Brett Rossi also weighed in. When TMZ stopped her at LAX, she said, “Well, Charlie’s done a lot of bad things to a lot of good people. That’s a pretty steep allegation, but all I know is that he’s ruined a lot of lives and that he gets to live on with his life and not suffer any of the repercussions of his actions... He seems to get away with a lot of things.” When pressed on whether specifically she guessed the tabloid story could be true, she answered, “I mean if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it possibly could be a duck.”
When discussing Sheen as a client, new lawyers Shane and his father Stephen Bernard claim that he is a very different man than the Charlie Sheen of the past.
“My point is that past behavior is past behavior,” says Stephen Bernard. “The reason he’s been under the radar for the past few years is that his conduct has completely changed. He has not done any of those things that brought attention to him in the past. He has maintained his sobriety. He has been acting.”
“He’s also a father,” Shane Bernard cuts in. “He’s a loving family man. A father of five. He has a granddaughter. I can’t speak to past actions, however I can tell you that Charlie is a wonderful character. Extremely lovable. Hard working. And from what I’ve seen he’s been nothing less than just a wonderful man.”
“And people do change,” Stephen Bernard said.
“That’s right, people do change,” Shane Bernard added.
For the sake of people everywhere, let’s certainly hope so.
There are, in fact, entire websites devoted to documenting Charlie Sheen’s alleged abuse—which is jaw-dropping in its entirety. Here’s an overview:
1990: His now infamous “accidental” shooting of John Travolta’s now-wife and Sheen’s then-fiancée Kelly Preston with a .22.
1994: An unidentified UCLA student files a lawsuit alleging Sheen hit her in the head after she refused sex. (He was married at the time to his first wife, the model Donna Peele.)
1996: Sheen is arrested for brutally beating Brittany Ashland, slamming her head into a marble floor and threatening to kill her. Ashland received seven stitches in her lip. He pleaded “no contest” and received two years of probation. Sheen, in fact, said that Ashland tried to attack him, and he was simply “trying to contain her.” When reached for comment for this story, Ashland’s then-lawyer, Gloria Allred, said, “No comment.”
2004: After the birth of his first child with Richards, a court document filed by Richards alleges that she was concerned that Sheen was using drugs again, so she called his sponsor. “The Respondent became paranoid. Respondent began to obsess about vaccines being poisonous, about 9/11 being a conspiracy, purchasing gas masks on the Internet, and putting guns under the coffee table so that they would be within reach if someone broke into our house,” read the filing. Afterward, Sheen is alleged to have sawed a large wedding picture of the two of them in half and then spray-painted over it, “Dumbest day of my life.”
2006: In legal filings for a custody dispute after filing for divorce the previous year, Richards claims that Sheen threatened to murder her and watched disturbing porn. Of the porn, her filing claims, “I learned that the Respondent was accessing gay pornography sites which I found even more disturbing because I felt that the boys looked underage.” (Sheen’s response: “The FBI was aware of these issues. I provided them with every computer I owned. The computers were returned two weeks later. Haven’t heard from them since. Period. The end.”)
Other claims in the filing detail multiple alleged threats on her life: “I told the Respondent that if the Respondent proceeded with his threats to take me to Court over the children for overnight visitation, that I would have to tell the truth about what he had done. He told me that ‘I Will never get to Court because I will be f--king dead!’ He told me to enjoy my parents ‘while they are still around.’ I took this to mean that he was not only going to do me harm but also do harm to my parents. In this conversation, I also brought up an old prostitute/porn star who he saw by the name of Chloe Jones. I saw on the news that she had died from undetermined causes. When I asked him if he had anything to do with her death, he said that he had ‘no comment.’ He repeated ‘no comment’ again when I asked him again. This scared me.”
To underscore Sheen’s temper and abuse, her filing included transcripts of six phone messages he allegedly left her when she was pregnant. In one, he says, “You’re a coward and a liar and a fucking n---er all right so fuck you.” In another, he references Richards’ female attorney and refers to “two pregnant cunts... plotting against the rest of us.” (Sheen claimed: “I have asked that the court eliminate Ms. Richards’s ability to abuse and harass us any longer. One can only imagine what we’ve withstood thus far.”)
Richards was granted a restraining order.
When Vanity Fair’s Mark Seal later asked Sheen’s then-manager Mark Burg about this damning document, Burg responded, “No, I honestly never saw that, and you know, it’s funny how, when the divorce is over and the checks are written, all of a sudden now everybody’s friends again.”
2009: Sheen is arrested for felony second-degree assault and felony menacing against his then-wife Brooke Mueller, whose terrified voice can be heard in a 911 call fearing for her life and claiming that her husband had a knife to her throat. He pleaded guilty to third-degree domestic violence.
2010: Escort Capri Anderson alleges that Sheen put his hands on her neck and threatened to kill her on the night he was found naked and intoxicated in a New York hotel room. No arrest was made, and he entered a hospital voluntarily. (Sheen’s lawyer called Anderson’s claims “completely false.”)
2011: Mueller alleges that Sheen threatened to cut her head off and “put it in a box” and mail it to her mother and texted that he wanted to murder his Jewish manager: “I must execute mark b like the stooped jew pig that he is.” She filed a restraining order against him, which was granted, and the couples’ twins are taken from his home. (Sheen called Mueller’s claims “lies.”)
When you see Comedy Central feting him with a celebratory star-studded roast that same year, it starts to become clear that our society has struck a kind of covenant with this actor: Keep being crazy, and we’ll keep watching. Besides, as he told 20/20’s Andrea Canning, all these women are “trolls” and their accusations are “sad lies.” A lot of them are sex workers—so what does it matter, right?
As Jezebel founding editor Anna Holmes observed in her 2011 New York Times piece called “The Disposable Woman,” it took then-CNN host Piers Morgan 43 minutes into his special interview with the actor to ask him, “Have you ever hit a woman?” Then, Holmes writes, “Two minutes later, with Mr. Morgan apparently satisfied with the actor’s answer that no, women should be ‘hugged and caressed,’ that line of questioning was over.” As she noted, “while his self-abuses are endlessly discussed, his abuse of women is barely broached.”
But the timeline of abuse did not end in 2011 for Sheen.
2012: A police report is filed by a man who claims that Sheen threatened to shoot him to death with a semi-automatic handgun.
2013: Sheen sends a happy birthday tweet to his ex-wife Mueller, writing “why don’t ya ‘blow’ out this candle.” It is a picture of a grenade. The tweet was in response to her request for a restraining order.
2014: An L.A. dental technician sues him for assault and sexual battery, claiming that Sheen punched her during an office visit and grabbed her left breast.
2015: Sheen tweets at ex-wife Richards that she is a “heretic washed up piglet” and a “shame pile.”
2015: Sheen announces that he is HIV-positive to Matt Lauer. “I have to put a stop to this onslaught, this barrage of attacks, of sub-truths, and very harmful stories that are about threatening the health of so many others, which couldn’t be farther from the truth.”
2016: L.A. police confirm a police investigation into Sheen regarding the legal battle between him and his ex-fiancee Scottine Ross. In a recording on RadarOnline, a voice that was believed to be Sheen said he would rather pay $20,000 to kick Ross in the head than settle her lawsuit against him. She is granted a protective order. Ross’s lawsuit alleges that Sheen held an unloaded gun to her head and pulled the trigger, and that he exposed her to HIV. (Sheen’s lawyer, Marty Singer, calls Ross “an extortionist… who gets paid for sex as a prostitute and a porn star.”)
2017: An additional lawsuit is filed against Sheen by a Jane Doe claiming he exposed her to HIV.
“No matter how terrible he is, Charlie is still on brand,” says author Jo Piazza, who devoted an entire chapter to the Hollywood trainwreck in her book Celebrity, Inc. “Charlie Sheen isn’t going down in this purge. Charlie Sheen is probably never going down further than he’s already gone. He’s never pretended to be anything but a reprehensible human being and Hollywood in its messed up way has rewarded him for that. He’s built fictional characters on that brand, one of which was on the most popular show on television. Sheen is bullet proof because he has never pretended to be anything besides a toxic motherfucker.”
Indeed, reporter Marianne Garvey, formerly of the New York Post’s Page Six, was the first to reach Sheen after his trashing of the Plaza hotel in 2010, and she holds herself and the rest of the press accountable for being unable to look away from Charlie Sheen.
“He was insane off the bat,” she says. “He would call me and go on these rants and they would get bonkers traffic online. But the reason I, and everyone else, kept coming back, was because he was entertaining. I’ve never seen a meltdown so worthy of an audience in my life. The guy seems to survive anything, he bounces back all the time, he actually is smart, and the phrases and words he used were brilliant. Tiger blood? It was funny... at the time. When he announced he had been having unprotected sex after being told he had AIDS, it just brought the humor to a stop for me, and I think a lot of people in Hollywood. He’s just crazy. In America, we love crazy.”
But some Charlie Sheen watchers still hold hope that in the current Hollywood climate, and with the creep purge underway, Sheen may finally be held accountable.
“Throughout his career and all his really reprehensible behavior, he’s received wink-wink coverage from the media portraying him as a fuckup, but a kind of lovable one,” says writer Martha Ross. “But he has a long and documented history of violence against women that we should have always found highly disturbing. Maybe now, with the fallout from the Harvey Weinstein scandal, people will look at that violence in the correct light.”
As for Sheen’s new lawyers, they’re concerned about the potential for misunderstanding Sheen, who they say is a changed man and should not be part of a #MeToo “witchhunt.”
“With the #MeToo campaign, there’s a lot of attention on sexual abuse as there should be,” Shane Bernard says. “I don’t know if all of it is appropriate, however. I think there’s a lot of witch hunts out there.”
“I don’t want to use that word,” he corrects himself. “Let’s be honest, but for Sheen’s name, this would not be placed in the news.
“For better or for worse,” Sheen's lawyer adds of his new client, “I think we know who Charlie is.”