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.”
The lawsuit lays out a slew of horrific allegations, painting a lurid picture of LaBeouf, an artistically outlandish artist, whose work has been praised, despite a long history of legal issues often overshadowing his career.
FKA Twigs, born Tahliah Barnett, is demanding a trial by jury.
The musician was once woken up by LaBeouf towering over her, violently squeezing her arms against her will and choking her, according to the lawsuit. The alleged incident occurred during a trip to celebrate Valentine’s Day in 2019. As he was strangling her, the lawsuit claims, he was whispering, “If you don’t stop you are going to lose me.” After the alleged incident, LaBeouf became manic while driving back to his home. Barnett tried to get out of the car, as he threatened to crash the car, unless he professed her “eternal love” for him, and though he briefly stopped at a gas station, he “violently attacked” her, throwing her against the car, screaming in her face and attempting to strangle her, before forcing her to get back in the car.
After the alleged altercation, Barnett texted a close friend, writing, “This is difficult to say but I am sure you know. I have been in an abusive relationship that has isolated me. It’s worse than you could imagine.”
When filming “The Tax Collector,” LaBeouf got so into character, according to the lawsuit, he took on the role of a gangster in real life, and claimed to drive around Los Angeles, shooting stray dogs dead, so that he could get into the “mindset” of a killer. Barnett, an animal lover, was “profoundly disturbed and terrified.”
LaBeouf also demanded she slept naked, and forced her to watch documentaries about murdered women before going to bed, per the public filing. LaBeouf apparently was paranoid and suffered recurring delusions about gang members breaking into his home, so he slept with a loaded rifle at their bedside, but insisted on keeping the front door unlocked. Barnett, feeling “trapped” in their shared bed, fearful he might accidentally shoot her if she stood up, would often text friends in the middle of the night to devise an escape plan.
LaBeouf continuously belittled his then-girlfriend, and is accused of having frequent rage and bouts of jealously, even accusing her of dwelling on her former fiancé, actor Robert Pattinson, the lawsuit states. LaBeouf was so possessive, he would count the number of kisses she would give him on any given day, and berate her if it wasn’t enough.
The lawsuit also claims LaBeouf knowingly infected her with an STD.
Representatives for LaBeouf have not responded to Variety‘s request for comment on the allegations.
LaBeouf said not all the allegations were true, in an email statement to the New York Times, which also reported he said, “I’m not in any position to tell anyone how my behavior made them feel. I have no excuses for my alcoholism or aggression, only rationalizations. I have been abusive to myself and everyone around me for years. I have a history of hurting the people closest to me. I’m ashamed of that history and am sorry to those I hurt. There is nothing else I can really say.”
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 the Valentine’s Day incident when he forcibly slammed the musician against his car and attempted to strangle her, 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.”
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.
Barnett’s attorney says she 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 past behavior 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 Barnett is suing LaBeouf to help other women — not for monetary reasons. Should she be awarded any monies from LaBeouf, she intends to donate a “significant portion” to non-profiles that help survivors of domestic abuse.
“The days in which LaBeouf can mistreat and harm women with impunity are over,” the lawsuit states.
Musician Sia also came forward against LaBeouf on Dec. 12 via Twitter, writing: “I too have been hurt emotionally by Shia, a pathological liar, who conned me into an adulterous relationship claiming to be single. I believe he’s very sick and have compassion for him AND his victims. Just know, if you love yourself – stay safe, stay away.”
She later added, “Also I love you @FKAtwigs. This is very courageous and I’m very proud of you.”
I too have been hurt emotionally by Shia, a pathological liar, who conned me into an adulterous relationship claiming to be single. I believe he's very sick and have compassion for him AND his victims. Just know, if you love yourself- stay safe, stay away. https://t.co/2NNEj9w8b1
— sia (@Sia) December 13, 2020
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.”
“Women everyone are now on notice that LaBeouf is not the tortured artist he portrays himself as,” the lawsuit states. “He is a destructive and dangerous man.”
See the entire lawsuit here:
Jem Aswad and Gene Maddaus contributed to this report.