It’s one of the strangest cases of alleged spousal abuse to come out of the #MeToo era — and it touches on one of America’s cultural third rails.
Laura Fleiss — former Miss America and wife of “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” creator Mike Fleiss — has filed for an emergency domestic violence restraining order after an alleged attack at their Hawaii home on July 4, according to Variety.
The thing that precipitated the purported attack? If the court documents seeking the order are to be believed, it was Laura’s refusal to abort her unborn child.
Fleiss said in the filing that she was verbally assailed by her husband at the couple’s house.
“While we were at our house in Kauai, Mike demanded that I get an abortion,” Fleiss claims.
“Our son Ben was in the house, seated in another room nearby. Mike told me, ‘If you have an abortion, then we can just go back to the way we were.’”
The documents claim that Mike Fleiss had “become enraged” and had wanted to “cut her off financially” unless she terminated the pregnancy.
“While Mike has frequently been verbally abusive towards me during our marriage, in recent weeks, he has become enraged, due to the fact I am pregnant with our second child,” Laura Fleiss stated in court documents.
“Mike told me many times that he did not want us to have a second child. He also repeatedly told me throughout our marriage, and prior to our marriage, that he knew he would ‘have to have’ one child with me because I was 26-years-old when we got married, did not yet have any children, and he knew I wanted to have a family. Mike, however, being 55-years old, did not want to have more than one child together.”
On July 5, she stated in the court document, things got worse.
“I tried to go into another room to call my mother. Mike refused to let me go and made threats that I would lose access to my family and my family’s ability to see Ben,” the filings read.
“Mike said, ‘You aren’t going to see your mother for the next two-to-three years. You need to call [your mom] right now and tell her this.’ I was terrified. Then he forced me to call my mother from my cell phone while he was standing and watching me in the room. When I called my mother, Mike then grabbed the phone and began angrily lecturing my mother. He told her I was getting an abortion. Then he said to her, ‘You won’t be seeing [Laura] until after August 5 — after the abortion.’
“This statement was especially scary to me, as I had not personally committed to having an abortion but had made an appointment given Mike’s insistence and pressure. I had no idea what exactly he meant by it and interpreted it as a threat that he would prevent my family from having contact with me or my son.”
On July 6, the filing states, Mike Fleiss “grabbed [her] body” and “forcibly pinned [her] up against the wall” while threatening to “punch her in the face.”
— E! News (@enews) July 17, 2019
Mike Fleiss, for his part, has said that security footage will prove his innocence and that Laura Fleiss was the one attacking him. He filed for divorce on July 10, according to The Wrap.
“I have not hurt, attacked, or attempted to physically harm Laura or our child, Benjamin Fleiss ‘Ben,’ in any way,” Mike said in a July 15 court filing.
“There was an incident on July 6, 2019, at my home in Hawaii. Laura was the aggressor during the incident and physically attacked me. I tried to get away from her as she was chasing me and hitting me. I have security footage from our home that shows the incident, which the Court can review.”
He also said that when he called the security company to get the footage on July 7, he found that Laura had already tried to obtain it.
“I believe she was trying to have it deleted,” he said in the filing. “I was able to obtain the security footage from the Hawaii house to show the incident once I ran out of the house and Laura followed me, continuing to attack me.”
In his court filing, Mike Fleiss also claimed that he was concerned his wife was having an affair and that when he tried to take her phone out of her hands, “she immediately attacked me and so I ran out of the bedroom, down the stairs‚ and out of the house to my car.” She apparently continued to try to get the phone from him and “was pounding on me with her fists, jumping on my back and attacking me” after she chased him to his car.
Fleiss also says that the June 6 incident was precipitated when he asked her about the affair and whether the baby she is carrying was actually his.
However, according to Radar Online — with which the reality TV impresario shared text messages he says exonerates him — Fleiss also claims that his wife was lying about the fact that she was on birth control at the time.
I don’t want to cast aspersions on Fleiss — if he has the text messages and security footage that proves he didn’t attack his wife, that obviously changes the complexion of this case completely — but why is that part about birth control even relevant or helpful to his cause?
Mike Fleiss is certainly entitled to the presumption of innocence here. His statement isn’t indicative of guilt. It’s indicative of callousness.
He’s saying that he didn’t attack his wife and he’s actually the victim here — but, you know, she lied about being on birth control and now she’s pregnant.
Did he not have a lawyer around to tell him to shut up after claiming to be the victim?
Especially after the profoundly ugly language he’s accused of using to try to bully his wife into an abortion, he should perhaps consider that physical abuse isn’t the only thing in this court filing that could end his career. The subtext here looks very ugly, as if Fleiss is blaming his wife for getting pregnant and wanting to keep the child.
While Mike Fleiss asked the court to deny his wife’s request for a restraining order, the judge allowed it to stand until Aug 6, the next court date in the case. Until then, Fleiss must stay 100 yards away from his wife and have no direct or indirect contact with her, according to People.
Warner Bros., which represents Mike Fleiss, issued a statement saying that they “are aware of these serious allegations, and are looking into them.”
In the interim, it’ll be interesting to see how much coverage this garners. The allegations of spousal abuse — made by a former Miss America, no less — are part and parcel with an alleged attempt to force said spouse into an abortion. While the abuser denies the physical abuse, his statements about birth control certainly cast aspersions on his conduct regarding the abortion part.
In the #MeToo era, this is the kind of case that would normally attract significant attention.
If it doesn’t, we can probably guess the reason why.
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