Actor Charlie Sheen fired back at his ex-fiancée in a new court filing this week, alleging Scottine Ross tried to extort him and threatened to divulge his HIV diagnosis. In a new interview with MSNBC, Ross rebutted those new allegations for the first time.
“They were the ones who offered me and my attorneys substantial money to be quiet, based off of my abuse claims,” she said, arguing her dispute is over allegations that Sheen abused her.
“Charlie frequently would hit me, he would push me, kick me, drag me, shake me, and choke me,” she said. “Everyone keeps focusing on this issue — his lawsuit being about his HIV status — but that’s not what it’s about,” she said.
“His HIV status, my abortion, happened to be contributing factors to prove manipulation and excessive abuse — they’re just contributing factors to the fact that he abused me,” Ross tells MSNBC in the new interview.
Sheen’s filing alleges Ross “attempted to extort millions of dollars” from Sheen, with the help of her lawyer David Ring.
Ring emphatically denies that allegation. “That’s a flat out lie,” he told MSNBC.
Ring said he had negotiations with Sheen’s lawyer, Martin Singer, who was “aware of what the allegations were, and not one time was there ever a threat that someone was going to file to expose Mr. Sheen’s medical condition,” he said, reiterating “that’s a flat out lie.”
Ross said she first met Sheen two years ago, after he spent “six months” asking people to introduce them.
“He eventually offered $10,000,” she said, “in exchange to see me with the intentions of having sexual relations.” Sheen tried to secure her silence in advance, she said, by having her sign a non-disclosure agreement, or NDA.
That secrecy contract may be pivotal in the case.
MSNBC exclusively obtained a copy of the NDA, signed by Sheen and Ross, which states that Ross waived her rights in exchange “for the opportunity to spend time” with Sheen.
It also states Ross must pay an automatic $100,000 in damages to Sheen, in the event of violating or even “threatening” to violate the agreement. It’s a very high penalty for a contract that, Sheen claims, both parties agreed to without money changing hands.
Ross said “it was signed under duress,” and her lawyer argues the state can’t enforce a contract if its very purpose was against the law.
“The original purpose was an illicit purpose — it was illegal,” said Ring.
“The reason why she was going over to his house — and she readily admits it — is to have sex and he was going to pay her money to do it,” he explains. “So that contract in California is void, because you cannot enter into a contract for an illicit purpose. That ends the NDA right then and there,” he told MSNBC.
California law states when if a contract’s “single” goal is unlawful, then “the entire contract is void.”
Sheen’s lawyer insists the contract is valid, “customary for all of his visitors,” and that she violated it.
Their new filing argues that even if the NDA was not valid, any dispute about it should be handled in private arbitration, not open court.
“Celebrities do have a genuine interest in protecting their privacy,” said Paul Nicholas Boylan, a California attorney who specializes in NDAs and is not involved in the case.
“But these agreements are a form of intimidation,” he told MSNBC. “No contract should limit rights if one party is physically injured,” he added. Boylan expects a court would reject Sheen’s NDA.
Kenneth Sargoy, a California contract attorney who is not involved in the case, said the NDA was “incredibly general.” While such contracts can legitimately protect privacy, he said “she is not attempting to profit from her relationship with Mr. Sheen,” but rather seeking compensation “for harm caused to her by Mr. Sheen.”
Sargoy emphasized that the case is all about “alleged misconduct” — it’s not like Ross is “writing a tell-all book about Sheen,” he said.
For her part, Ross said she never publicly disclosed Sheen’s HIV status, and only discovered it after they began a sexual relationship.
“I opened the medicine cabinet,” she said. “I found a pill bottle that said Truvata,” an HIV treatment. She said Sheen had not warned her of his status. Among other claims, her suit does allege Sheen was “negligent” in withholding that information.
Sheen’s new filing denies that allegation, and asserts Ross “was the one who insisted upon having unprotected sex with Sheen ‘like a normal couple.’”
Ross uses that phrase in her interview, but stresses the discussion only came after her discovery.
“Charlie and I discussed having sex like a normal couple,” she said. “This was after I had discovered he was HIV positive.”
She said she also worried about the consequences of keeping the information private.
“I was terrified that he would take this and believe that now he can freely have sex with others and not give it to them,” she said. “And it ate me alive, and clearly by what he said on the Today Show, he believes he cannot give it to anyone.”
Asked directly about Sheen’s statement that he warned all his partners, Ross said that was not only untrue in her case, but that she witnessed he was not in a state to be confident of that claim.
“I don’t think Charlie is coherent enough for him to accurately make a statement as bold as that statement is,” she said. “You’re telling me that a man that, for the last four years, has pretty much glorified this party lifestyle, of hookers drugs and partying, that he remembers every single sexual encounter, that he told every single sexual encounter?”
While Ross’s suit pursues monetary damages and cites past negotiations over a financial settlement, including a portion of Sheen’s proceeds from the TV show “Anger Management,” she said the dispute is about more than money, despite Sheen’s allegations.
“I could understand why he would say that,” she said. “If I was motivated by money, the number one giveaway would be that I would’ve kept our child, even against his wishes. If I was motivated by money, I would’ve kept quiet.”
Instead, she argues more is at stake in the case.
“I hope that by crucifying myself and embarrassing myself — because this is embarrassing — this is not something that you want in public, this is not a way you want to gain notoriety or infamy,” she said. She added that she hopes other young women will see they can “stand up and have a voice,” even if they are scare or trapped in an abusive relationship.
“I’m terrified, I just want others to speak up and know that it’s not okay,” she said, “Don’t be scared just because somebody has power.”Read the full text of the non-disclosure agreement here.