Melanie Janine Brown, better known as Mel B, has just been granted a restraining order against her husband Stephen Belafonte. The former Spice Girl submitted divorce papers in early March listing the date of separation as December 28 according to People Magazine. After 10 years of marriage, Brown filed and cited “irreconcilable differences”. According to divorce paperwork, she is seeking joint legal and physical custody of their 5-year-old daughter, Madison. TMZ reports she has also moved to block any spousal support.
Melanie Brown began dating producer Stephen Belafonte in February 2007. Brown and Belafonte secretly married on 6 June 2007 in Las Vegas, Nevada, according to a marriage license filed in Clark County. In a statement to PEOPLE, Brown’s rep said: “Regarding the marriage, Mel and Stephen have known each other for many years and were great friends first. Now they are deeply in love. The two are very happy together.” The couple first got together while Brown was pregnant with her second daughter, Angel Iris Murphy Brown, who was the result of Brown’s previous relationship with actor/comedian Eddie Murphy. The couple subsequently renewed their vows in front of their families on 8 November 2008 in Hurghada, Egypt.
It seems the divorce isn’t that simple though because the former Spice Girl just filed for a
temporary restraining order (which she has since been granted) citing years of abuse at the hands of Belafonte. According to court documents, the abuse began the morning after her season's "Dancing with the Stars" finale in September of 2007. She was scheduled to do a live TV appearance at their home and claims he choked her and slammed her onto the hardwood floor, forcing a makeup artist to cover the red marks. The first public incident however, came in December of 2014, when Mel B was absent from a taping of the reality-competition series X Factor. Viewers at home were told that the pop star had fallen ill, but Brown appeared on the program the following evening with bruises on her arms and cheek, causing alarm among viewers and audience.
Mel B’s mother, Andrea, took to Twitter to insinuate that Belafonte was behind the bruising, tweeting, “On average It takes 30 beatings 4 a woman to leave abusive man how sad more should b done 4 these victims!!”. While he immediately denied all allegations, it took Brown two months to speak out; stating: “No, my husband didn’t hit me. No, I didn’t get held hostage. Me and my husband are madly in love.”
Other cited incidents include the eve of July 201,2 during a taping an X Factor segment
with Usher, Belafonte became jealous and punched her in the mouth. Two months later, she says that he not only punched her in the face again following her London Olympics performance, but also dragged her across the carpet, causing rug burns. Mel noted that following her accomplishments, Belafonte would regularly “beat me down to let me know he was in charge”.
Brown claims that she has tried to leave her husband time and again since they were
married in 2007, but says he “threatened me with violence and threatened to destroy my life in every possible way… destroy my career and take my kids away from me.” The singer also alleges that Belafonte got their nanny, Lorraine Gilles, pregnant, forced her to get an abortion, and used her money to pay the nanny off. She also claims that Belafonte would make her “participate in sexual intercourse with him and random women,” and if she voiced any disapproval, informed her that he’d release the sex tapes online if she didn’t.
A hearing on the temporary restraining order has been set for April 24th, however, Belafonte already has quite the past. In 2003 he was convicted of domestic-violence, wherein he pleaded guilty of battery, for beating his former girlfriend, bikini model Nicole Contreras. He was convicted of theft in 2001, and his first wife, Nancy Carmell, had their marriage annulled after just two months amid rumblings of emotional abuse. He also once beat a duck to death with a brick.
In the wake of the December 2014 X Factor incident, Belafonte’s brother Jeremiah Stansbury gave an interview to The Sun where he claimed that his younger brother was prone to violent outbursts, and that he had the scars to prove it. He also urged Mel B to steer clear of him.
“I know Steve—he’s cold, he’s hard and he’s violent. He loves money,” said Stansbury. “Mel should look after her inner health—and that will never happen around Steve. She should get help. He will destroy her. He will stress her out and pressure her until her stomach lining bursts wide open from an ulcer or she falls down and faints.”
News of their split comes after the British pop star revealed her father, Martin Brown, had died on March 5 following a five-year battle with cancer. Brown had been estranged from her family for years, due to their disapproval of her relationship with Belafonte, but she reunited with her sister Danielle to be with their father in his final hours.
The producer has already starting seeking joint custody of their 6-year-old daughter, Madison. However, he is also seeking visitation rights over Mel's 10-year-old daughter with Eddie Murphy, Angel. Just last week Belafonte's attorney Grace Jamra wrote a letter to Mel's attorneys Susan [Weisman] and Larry [Bakman] expressing the producer's desire to spend time with both children. "Stephen would like to schedule a meeting as soon as possible to discuss the resolution of temporary issues, including his ability to see Madison and Angel, whom we would appreciate continuing to have contact with," the letter read. Belafonte currently argues that he's more of a father figure in Angel's life than Murphy as he married Mel when Angel was just 2-months-old.