Days after his ex-wife Michelle Ghent filed a second restraining order against actor Terrence Howard, alleging that a recent conciliatory trip to Costa Rica went violently awry, Philadelphia Magazine has discovered that Howard once assaulted a Philadelphia woman and her fiance at a diner back in 2005. Not that it's shocking: The Chris Brown apologist already has a long history of violent outbursts, dating back more than a decade.
Howard, of course, has a reputation for difficulty. He was dropped from the Iron Man franchise over contract negotiations stemming from his notoriously tiresome behavior on set. And he once told Elle that not only should his perfect woman look like him because "the most beautiful thing in nature is your own reflection," but that any woman who doesn't use baby wipes in conjunction with toilet paper—or isn't willing to, for Howard's sake—isn't completely clean.
But as the timeline below shows, it's not just bad-boy star behavior and weirdo interviews. There's a far more troubling pattern over the last decade, one of allegations of violent abuse and unprovoked assault:
The allegation: In August of 2000, Howard was arrested in Cleveland after assaulting a flight attendant on Continental Airlines when she told him to return to his seat while the seat belt sign was on.
Howard's defense: Howard says he was just trying to take his daughter to the bathroom, and charges were dropped by the Cleveland District Attorney for lack of jurisdiction.
The allegation: Less than a year after the Continental incident, Howard was arrested in Whitemarsh, PA for assaulting his estranged wife, Lori McCommas. An argument over the phone led to Howard driving over to McCommas' home, kicking down her front door, and punching her three times in the face. Pleasant.
Howard's defense: According to The Smoking Gun, "Howard admitted, 'I broke the door down and hit my wife.' After being charged with a variety of crimes (simple assault, terroristic threats, harassment and stalking), Howard subsequently pleaded guilty in 2002 to disorderly conduct."
The allegation: Though the story is only coming to light now, Philadelphia Magazine reports that back in March of 2005, Howard was involved in another violent incident with two complete strangers: Danielle DiStefano and her then-fiance Kevin Saffell were in line at Ray's Dining Car in Philadelphia when Howard became violent after the couple was seated ahead of him (DiStefano and Saffell were in line first). After allegedly punching Saffell, a U.S. Marine, to the ground, Howard is said to have punched DiStefano in the chest, and continued to beat Saffell, before fleeing the scene. He was arrested and charged with simple assault and harassment, but those charges were later withdrawn and Howard only received charges for disorderly conduct.
Howard's defense: At the time, Howard admitted to the arresting officer that he'd hit both Saffell and DiStefano, but claimed it was in self-defense. When contacted more recently by Philadelphia Magazine, Howard's lawyer said that his client "has been unjustly accused of acts that never happened."
2010 - 2011
The allegation: Howard married his second wife, Michelle Ghent, on January 20, 2010. It took less than a week for the alleged violence to begin. Ghent filed for divorce in January 2011, and the divorce papers detail a gruesome year: a slug in the face a week into the marriage, a beating and near-toss off a balcony in South Africa in July, and threats with a butcher knife in the week prior to her filing for divorce. The abuse apparently continued as Howard and Ghent tried to reconcile.
Howard's defense: Howard alleges that it was Ghent who was violent towards him, the judge granted Ghent a restraining order against Howard in December of 2011.
The allegation: On May 6, 2012 Howard's on again-off again girlfriend/mistress May Seng Yang alleged that during an argument at Howard's Pennsylvania home, Howard attacked her while his current girlfriend, Erica Jiles looked on. Yang "told Whitemarsh police that Howard had choked her, thrown her to the ground and punched her in the eye, then told his girlfriend, 'Fuck this, I’m going to jail for this tonight.' In a handwritten statement to police, Yang wrote that during their argument she told Howard that he had given her herpes and says he acknowledged doing so."
Howard's defense: Howard filed assault charges against Yang for punching him during the melee, and both parties dropped criminal charges and settled in a private civil suit.
The allegation: Howard and Ghent recently took another shot at a reconciliation, taking a trip to Costa Rica together August of 2013. Ghent alleges that Howard punched her in the face, after she told him she didn't think a reconciliation was going to work out, forcing her to pepper spray him in self defense. The photos are damning. A judge has granted Ghent a temporary restraining order.
Howard's defense: At the premiere of Lee Daniels' The Butler, Howard told Entertainment Tonight's Nancy O'Dell that he wanted to "set the record straight":
We're divorced now and she should stay that way, and I just wish the best for her. But as far as me harming somebody, anybody that knows me, I really can't harm a fly, you know? It's completely against my spirit.
Weird, given that in 2001 he himself admitted to breaking down McCommas' door and hitting her—a fact he seems to have conveniently memory-holed in the years since. (To be fair, his ex-wife is likely not a fly, so he can defend his quote on a technicality.) He also shared this completely nonsensical analogy about jungle snakes, in further effort to absolve his tarnished name.
Well it's heartbreaking because there's a story about someone that picked up a viper that was frozen and they put it close to their chest so that it could warm up and the moment that it became warm it bit them, and it said 'Why did you bite me?' 'Well, didn't you know I was a viper?'