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Lee Daniels Settles Sean Penn Defamation Lawsuit

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“Empire” creator Lee Daniels; Scott Kirkland/FOX(LOS ANGELES) — Empire creator Lee Daniels has settled a defamation lawsuit filed against him last year by Sean Penn, after Daniels invoked the Oscar-winner’s name while discussing domestic violence allegations against Terrence Howard, one of the stars of Daniels’ hit Fox series.

Daniels agreed to donate an undisclosed amount to Penn’s charity, J/P Haitian Relief Organization, created after the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Daniels also issued a public apology, saying in a statement obtained by the trade publication, “I am so sorry that I have hurt you, Sean, and I apologize and retract my reckless statements about you.

“How thoughtless of me,” he says. “You are someone I consider a friend, a brilliant actor and true Hollywood legend and humanitarian.

“I too have been the subject of false attacks by others, like those made here,” the statement from Daniels continues. “My most important role is as a father, and it is important to me that my children learn that it is wrong to reference gossip as fact, as I did here. That can be very damaging and hurtful. Domestic violence is a very serious issue. My comments were cavalier; it was not my intention to diminish the severity of the issue, but rather to express a view regarding the disparate treatment of men of color in our national conversation. I apologize again for the distress that this has caused you and your family.”

For his part, Penn says he accepts the “heartfelt apology” and appreciates “the sincerity with which it was delivered,” as well as the “generous donation” made by Daniels.

Penn’s $10 million defamation lawsuit was filed last September in response to comments Daniels made to The Hollywood Reporter regarding Howard, who’d faced abuse allegations involving two ex-wives.

“[Terrence Howard] ain’t done nothing different than Marlon Brando or Sean Penn, and all of a sudden he’s some f******’ demon,” Daniels said at the time. “That’s a sign of the time, of race, of where we are right now in America.”

In December, Penn amended the lawsuit and provided a declaration from his ex-wife Madonna, who stated that he’d never been physically abusive toward her.

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