Exclusive: Here’s Another Woman Butler Star Terrence Howard Punched

Inside a violent altercation at a Pennsylvania diner.

Last week, actor Terrence Howard’s second ex-wife, Michelle Ghent, obtained a restraining order against him after showing up in court with a massive black eye she says he gave her. It’s the second restraining order Ghent has been granted against her ex-husband, who lives in suburban Philadelphia. Howard’s first wife has also accused the actor of attacking her.

And now, just days before the release of Lee Daniels’ The Butler, in which Howard co-stars opposite Oprah Winfrey, Philadelphia magazine has learned that Howard punched a woman in a Pennsylvania diner in 2005, a woman he didn’t even know.

In March 2005, Danielle DiStefano and her then-fiance Kevin Saffell stopped into Ray’s Dining Car on Germantown Avenue for breakfast. The couple was at the front of the busy diner’s line, waiting to be seated, when Howard walked in and decided he didn’t want to wait in line like everyone else. He attempted to be seated first.

When the hostess began seating Saffell and DiStefano ahead of Howard, the actor stepped in front of them and asked why he wasn’t being seated first. DiStefano told him that she and Saffell were first in line. Howard told her, “Fuck you, I wasn’t talking to you.”

Naturally, her fiance, a United States Marine, took exception to Howard’s words and stepped toward the actor and told him to apologize. Instead, according to police and court documents, Howard punched him in the face, dropping him to the ground. Then he punched DiStefano in the chest. Saffell tried to get up, but Howard continued hitting him, causing him to lose consciousness, says the police incident report.

Perhaps realizing that he had just broken the “don’t hit women” rule that most men are taught — and breaking it in public, no less — Howard fled the scene, removing the brown sweater jacket he was wearing at the time of the altercation. Police tracked Howard down in his white Cadillac Escalade and brought him to the police station.

(Listen: Here’s Victor Fiorillo discussing this story on the Preston & Steve show on 93.3FM WMMR in Philadelphia)

Here’s what happened when East Norriton police officer John Gibson spoke with Howard in the interview room, according to the police report:

I advised Terrence of his Miranda warnings. Terrence stated that he understood, advising that he had been read his Miranda warnings several times in his life. Terrence then admitted to having a long criminal history…

Terrence did admit to striking both Kevin and Danielle but stated that it was in self-defense. Terrence stated that after he said “Fuck you” to Danielle he thought that Kevin was going to hit him. Terrence hit Kevin first in an attempt to stop Kevin from hitting him. Terrence further stated that he only hit Danielle because she attacked him.

Terrence stated that upon fleeing Ray’s he did remove his jacket in an attempt to confuse any possibly [sic] witnesses and avoid apprehension.

Police also spoke with the restaurant’s cashier and a cook. Neither mentioned seeing DiStefano “attacking” Howard. The actor threw the first and only punches, according to the police report, because he thought he might be hit. In other words, Howard was just standing his ground.

Howard was charged with simple assault and harassment, but the case never made it to trial. The charges of assault and harassment were withdrawn, and Howard pleaded guilty to a charge of disorderly conduct, according to a later police report, just three days before the release of Hustle & Flow, for which Howard was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar.

A 2001 case was resolved similarly after Howard was arrested for assaulting Lori McCommas, his first wife. According to a Whitemarsh Police Department report obtained by The Smoking Gun, Howard went to his estranged wife’s house, “broke the front door down and ran through the screen door in the kitchen. Howard then grabbed the victim’s left arm and punched her twice with a closed fist in the left side of the face.”

Here are the booking photos in the Whitemarsh arrest:

According to multiple media reports, Howard was charged with simple assault, making terroristic threats, harassment and stalking. In 2002, he pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and the other charges were dropped. That case has since been expunged. Howard and McCommas divorced in 2003, remarried in 2005 and divorced again in 2007.

Howard married Michelle Ghent in 2010. Just one year later, she obtained a restraining order against him after accusing Howard of attacking her. She also filed for divorce, alleging that he began abusing her just one week after their wedding. Ghent claimed Howard once told her, “I’ll hit a woman quicker than I’d hit a man.”

The divorce was finalized in May of this year, but Howard and Ghent recently reconnected on a trip to Costa Rica. This is where Ghent alleges Howard gave her a black eye (seen here), resulting in the most recent restraining order against him.

Howard has publicly denied attacking Ghent, telling Entertainment Tonight, “I never laid my hands on that woman.” He has also denied the allegations of violence set forth by Ghent in their divorce, claiming that Ghent was attempting to blackmail him.

On May 6, 2012, Howard allegedly assaulted his ex-girlfriend, May Seng Yang of Plymouth Meeting, at his Lafayette Hill home. The allegation, contained in a civil suit filed last year by Yang’s former lawyer, reads: “Defendant Howard choked [Yang], threw her to the ground and hit her in the left eye with his fist.”

No criminal charges were filed against Howard in that case, and Yang was actually arrested and charged with attacking Howard. These charges were later dropped. The lawyer claims in his suit that Howard then paid Yang $75,000 behind the lawyer’s back “in exchange for signing a Non-Disclosure Statement which obligated her to remain silent about the events of May 6, 2012… .”

Howard’s publicity team received Philadelphia magazine’s request for comment on this story but declined to make a statement by deadline, even after that deadline was extended. When reached for comment on the 2005 incident as well as these other altercations, Howard attorney Edwin Guyer of Blue Bell, Pa., said, “My client has been unjustly accused of acts that never happened.”

UPDATE: As Gawker points out, Howard was also accused of assaulting a female flight attendant in 2000. Those charges were dropped.

Follow @VictorFiorillo and @PhillyMag on Twitter.

[Butler Photo: Associated Press]

  • michelle

    maybe when this guy kills someone he’ll get a few months in prison

  • evelyn wenitsky

    howard is disgusting he beats women he truly should be locked up put him away i know him from lafayette hill
    he acts sweet its fake creep

  • Melissa Ambrose

    I used to love him. I guess acting is the right profession for him. Now I’m going to put my money where my mouth is, and boycott anything with him in it. Hollywood can condone his behavior, but I’M not

  • greenblood20

    The fact that he beat a marine senseless tells you what he is capable of. The fact that he is beating women….what an utter creep. Maybe this is the real reason he was bumped from the Iron Man franchise. Hey yo Terrance, why don’t you stop being a narcissistic creep for five minutes and see that your actions are that of the lowest form of humanity? Just another thug…

  • not better off

    Too bad he didn’t punch out fellow racist lunatic Oprah when they were filming that crap Butler movie no white person should go pay to see because of this dirtbags appearance in it.

    • thegreatcorntrollio

      his comments RE oprah looking so old next to him that he couldn’t the lead part he says Daniels promised him. Okrah is too fat and ugly for him.

  • KIKI

    What U.S. Marine can not defend himself? This sounds so fabricate. He punches the man until he is unconscious and attacks his finance. It would take four minutes at most to get him unconscious.

    • FrankB

      Really? Four minutes? So why then, have professional fighters been knocked out by a single punch, within the opening seconds of a fight?

      To keep it simple, I’ll tell you why. It depends on leverage and where you are struck. If the Marine was in a semi-prone position and received a solid blow to the temple or jaw, he would likely be knocked out immediately.

      Howard sucker-punched him and then hit him when he was down.

  • perforce

    Poverty and racism made him act this way.

    • morena97

      That’s true, because rich people don’t beat and murder their wives…oh wait.

  • perforce

    Now there is another reason not to suffer through Oprah’s agonizing struggle to act.

  • http://www.lancescurv.com/ Lance Scurvin

    You’ve got a strong points there in an even stronger blog article Victor. The facts can’t be denied! I wonder why Oprah never picked up on this? She HAD to know!

    http://www.lancescurv.com/actor-terrence-howard-feels-that-the-n-word-should-be-banned-from-the-english-language/

  • thegreatcorntrollio

    The dude is another OJ. Same psychotic arrogance and denial. I’m surprised her gets hired. Actually I don’t think he’s going to work much anymore. Word gets around DON’T HIRE THE BATTERER TERRENCE HOWARD

  • Patricia J. Williams

    He was always a handsome looking guy, put I could never get into him as an actor. Just something about him did not sit right with my me. So maybe I felt something about him that finally came to surface. I think a little counseling is needed here. Always go with your feelings.