The day after David Gest filed a $10 million lawsuit against his estranged wife Liza Minnelli, accusing her of beating him during alcoholic rages, the entertainer issued a statement denying the allegations as well as filing for divorce from Gest, The Associated Press reports.
"I hoped very much that the end of my marriage would be handled with mutual respect and dignity," Minnelli said in her statement. "The allegations in this lawsuit are hurtful and without merit. My lawyers will respond to the lawsuit in the proper forum.
"I will continue to focus on my work, my sobriety and my fans who have been so wonderful to me," she said.
In the suit filed Tuesday, Gest claims Minnelli insulted and beat him as she flew into drunken rages. Gest's lawyer, Raoul Felder, said his client suffered neurological damage and headaches from the attacks. Gest is being treated at a rehabilitation clinic in Honolulu, where he takes 11 medications a day, Felder said.
Minnelli, who has battled health and substance abuse problems for years, entered a "self-help" program in March at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in rural central Pennsylvania, AP reports.
"Obviously these people should be divorced," Felder told AP. "This marriage is dead, no doubt about it."
Minnelli, 57, and Gest, 50, were wed 16 months ago at a celebrity-studded ceremony in New York with Michael Jackson acting as best man and Elizabeth Taylor serving as maid of honor. Jackson introduced the two when Gest, a producer and promoter, produced Jackson's 30th anniversary tribute concert for television. It was Minnelli's fourth marriage and Gest's first.
Minnelli and Gest were also supposed to be the subject of a VH1 reality show, which was canceled when the network charged Gest was impossible to work with; the pair later filed a lawsuit against VH1, AP reports.