*Terrence Howard avoided having to pay a small fortune in alimony to his second wife after a judge on Monday overturned their divorce settlement, finding the actor was coerced into signing it by her threats to put his business in the streets.
Superior Court Judge Thomas Trent Lewis’ ruling means Howard and his ex-wife, Michelle Ghent, will now have to renegotiate the financial terms of their divorce.
“The evidence of extortion or duress was unrebutted,” Lewis said, according to the Associated Press.
Howard claimed he signed a 2012 settlement to end his marriage to Ghent out of fear she would leak private details about him, including phone sex recordings with other women and a video of him dancing naked in a bathroom.
The agreement entitled Ghent to a share of Howard’s earnings, which would include a portion of his salary from the hit Fox series “Empire.”
Ghent’s lawyers have said she denied extorting the actor in a deposition and argued he didn’t prove threats she made in 2011 forced him to sign the agreement a year later. She was not allowed to testify at a recent hearing because her attorneys did not file a sworn declaration from her before the proceedings began.
Howard’s four-day hearing revealed numerous private details, including that he had cheated on Ghent during their engagement, he was physically violent with his first wife, and he has already divorced his third wife.
Lewis also heard a 2011 call in which Ghent berated Howard and threatened to sell private information about him if he didn’t pay her money by the end of the day. Howard’s accountant sent Ghent $40,000 in response to the call, which he called “hush money.”
The actor called it “blood money.” He told Lewis that leaking the information at the time would have ended his acting career.
Ghent has accused Howard of multiple instances of domestic violence and has an active restraining order him. But Howard denies he abused Ghent.
Work on the show’s second season continues. Howard spent four days in court during a recent hearing, testifying for portions of three of those days. According to the AP, his absence didn’t impact the show’s shooting schedule.