Aspiring actress Mareli Miniutti was granted a restraining order against famed lawyer Michael Avenatti on Monday, and accused him of physical and verbal violence – including hitting her face with pillows, calling her an “ungrateful bitch” and dragging her across the floor.
The revelation comes after Avenatti was arrested by Los Angeles police on suspicion of felony domestic violence last week. CNN has confirmed that Miniutti is the alleged victim in the arrest. Avenatti, who was released on bail the day of the arrest, has not yet been charged in the case.
In a declaration filed as part of the request for a restraining order in Los Angeles Superior Court, Miniutti, 24, said she and Avenatti had been dating since October 2017 and living together since January of this year.
She described an altercation last week in which she and Avenatti began fighting about money, leading to him calling her an “ungrateful, f***** bitch.” Avenatti proceeded to get “very close to me in a threatening manner that made me afraid,” Miniutti said in the declaration.
As the altercation worsened, Miniutti alleged, Avenatti “began forcefully hitting me in the face with pillows from the bed,” and then grabbed her wrist and, later, her arm.
“He dragged me on the floor of the apartment towards and out of the door into the public hallway,” Miniutti said. “I was wearing only my underwear and t-shirt at the time, and suffered scratches to the bare skin on my side and leg.”
Miniutti said she eventually went down to the ground floor of the building, with Avenatti following. Miniutti said a friend picked her up and took Miniutti to her home, after which she called the police and gave them her statement.
The next day, Miniutti said, she returned to the building to retrieve her belongings from the apartment. As she began to gather her things, Miniutti said, Avenatti appeared, so she ran to the balcony in fear.
“A short while later, police detectives entered the apartment and told me that (Avenatti) had been arrested,” Miniutti said in the declaration.
Miniutti also said there was another occasion – in February of this year – when Avenatti “acted in a physically violent manner” toward her. He “had been drinking,” she said, “and became angry at me.”
“Respondent pushed me out of the apartment into the public hallway where I hit my head against a door across the hallway. Respondent then threw my shoes at me, striking me in the leg.”
She also alleged that Avenatti had a history of being “very verbally abusive and financially controlling” toward her.
Avenatti has vehemently denied the allegations against him, telling CNN he never laid a hand on Miniutti or any woman and that he expects to be fully exonerated.
Avenatti’s attorneys – Evan Jenness and Richard Beada – shared a different version of events in a statement given to police on Monday.
“Ms. Miniutti and Mr. Avenatti had an argument while in Mr. Avenatti’s apartment during which Ms. Miniutti behaved in a volatile, agitated and irrational manner. However, Mr. Avenatti did not inflict any corporal injury or cause any traumatic condition upon Ms. Miniutti,” Avenatti’s attorneys said.
They also said Avenatti’s statements are bolstered by witnesses, as well as surveillance video in the halls, elevator and entrance to the building. There is, however, no mention in the attorneys’ statement of any video inside the apartment where the alleged incident took place.
Avenatti tweeted Tuesday afternoon: “I want the truth to be known - all of it. The truth about the alleged incident on Tues night/Wed am, as well as the truth about TMZ’s completely false reporting about last Wed afternoon. I want it ALL disclosed. ASAP. As a result, I just authorized the release of all the video.”
Michael Bachner, Miniutti’s lawyer, told CNN in an email Tuesday evening: “Mareli Miniutti stands by the accuracy of her statements to the LAPD. The suggestions contained in Mr. Avenatti’s counsel’s letter to the LAPD are vindictive, contrary to the evidence, and unworthy of further reply.”
The Los Angeles Police Department has refused CNN’s public records request to view the police report in the case, saying it is still part of the investigation.
CNN has attempted multiple times to reach Miniutti but she has not responded to requests for comment.
Miniutti’s husband, Michael Miniutti, told CNN on Tuesday that he and his wife have been separated since January 2017, when she moved to California.
“The only thing I can say is: In Mareli’s defense, she was never aggressive. She never put me in an aggressive state of mind or anything like that,” he told CNN over the phone. “She’s a very calm, well-mannered, respectful individual. Very polite. Classy woman. And that’s it. That’s all I can say on her behalf.”
Asked about the alleged incident, Miniutti said: “A man should never raise a hand to a woman. To any woman.”