Melanie 'Mel B' Brown's Ex-Husband Stephen Belafonte Sues Singer for Defamation in $5 Million Lawsuit

Belafonte claims he "never" abused the Spice Girls star during their 10-year marriage

<p>Steve Granitz/WireImage</p> Stephen Belafonte and Melanie "Mel B" Brown in 2016.

Steve Granitz/WireImage

Stephen Belafonte and Melanie "Mel B" Brown in 2016.
  • Melanie "Mel B" Brown's ex-husband Stephen Belafonte has filed a defamation suit against the Spice Girls singer

  • Belafonte, with whom Brown shares a 12-year-old daughter, says "he has never physically, sexually, emotionally or financially abused" the star

  • She has repeatedly accused him of physical abuse, rape and more, both in interviews and in her 2018 memoir Brutally Honest

Stephen Belafonte, ex-husband of Melanie “Mel B” Brown, has filed a defamation lawsuit against the Spice Girls singer, claiming that her allegations of abuse against him are false and part of a “deliberate” campaign to “destroy” him.

Belafonte filed his suit in a Florida court on Wednesday, May 29 (Brown’s 49th birthday), and said in the documents, obtained by PEOPLE, that he “has never physically, sexually, emotionally or financially abused” Brown.

Belafonte, 49, shares 12-year-old daughter Madison with the singer, and his primary custody of the child. In his filing, he said he stayed quiet for years “in order to protect his young daughter from a drawn-out and public litigation.” Now, though, he is looking "to stand up for himself.”

A rep for Brown did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

Dominic Lipinski-Pool/Getty Melanie "Mel B" Brown with her MBE in London in May 2022
Dominic Lipinski-Pool/Getty Melanie "Mel B" Brown with her MBE in London in May 2022

Brown and Belafonte married in 2007, and she filed for divorce in March 2017; the split was settled later that year and finalized in 2018. She has since publicly and repeatedly alleged that Belafonte abused her, writing about her allegations at length in her 2018 memoir, Brutally Honest.

In his complaint, Belafonte says Brown filed a temporary restraining order against him in 2017, then withdrew it “after it became clear that she had no evidence to support her false allegations.” He says her claims led to him losing access to his home and his children.

Related: Mel B Reveals Why She's Marrying Rory McPhee After Swearing She'd Never Wed Again: 'I Believe in Love' (Exclusive)

In her filing for the restraining order, Brown said that while taping The X Factor Australia in 2012, Belafonte accused her of flirting with Usher on set, and punched her “with a closed fist in the face causing my lip to split and then swell.” The star said she told coworkers she’d had an allergic reaction to shellfish to cover for her then-husband.

But in his complaint, Belafonte claims the attack was a “complete fabrication,” and that paparazzi photos taken the same night show Brown having “no signs of an injury whatsoever,” and that she appeared on TV two days later “with no evidence” of a split lip or swelling.

Brown told Howie Mandel on his podcast last year that she “came really close to death” multiple times “at the hands of my abuser,” and that she was too terrified to go to the police, but her children Phoenix, 25, Angel, 17, and Madison “witnessed it many times.”

Mel B and Stephen Belafonte
Mel B and Stephen Belafonte

“I think it’s so important to honestly say what happens when you leave abuse, because it’s not as easy as some people may think,” the singer told PEOPLE in March. “For example, my mother would say, ‘What’s wrong with you? You’re fine now. You’ve left him.’ And I’d be going, ‘Yeah, but now I’ve got to pick up the pieces and I’ve got to deal with the shame and the guilt, and I want to protect my kids.’ And I don’t want to block out what happened because I did that for a little bit, and you get PTSD.”

She is currently a charity ambassador for Women’s Aid, a U.K.-based organization for women escaping domestic violence, and was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for her advocacy in 2022. Belafonte’s filing includes a screenshot of Brown allegedly texting her Spice Girls group member Geri Halliwell, “Charity doesn’t pay the bills, everyone [knows] that,” then asking about tour ideas.

<p>Brenda Chase/Getty</p> The Spice Girls in 1997.

Brenda Chase/Getty

The Spice Girls in 1997.

Belafonte’s complaint says he's had custody of Madison since 2019, and that in those years, Brown has “barely maintained a relationship” with the child, allegedly visiting her in the United States just once over the last four years.

Related: Mel B Says She'll 'Never Be Fully' Healed from Abusive Relationship But Is 'on the Right Path' (Exclusive)

His complaint also notes previous defamation lawsuits against his ex, including one filed in 2017 by the couple’s former nanny Lorraine Gilles. She sued Brown after the singer said publicly that Belafonte got Gilles pregnant while the two had an extramarital affair. The complaint says that Brown “later admitted that her accusations regarding the affair between Ms. Gilles and Mr. Belafonte were false,” and eventually paid Gilles more than $2 million in a settlement.

Belafonte is seeking at least $5 million in damages, and he wants a trial by jury, punitive damages and a gag order against Brown.

Brown is currently engaged to hairstylist Rory McPhee. She and her fellow Spice Girls recently reunited at Victoria Beckham’s 50th birthday party in April and performed their 1996 hit "Mama."

If you are experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.

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