Film and TV director Lee Daniels has settled the defamation lawsuit brought by Sean Penn, with an apology for insinuating that the actor physically abused his ex-wife Madonna and with a donation to the charity Penn founded.

The 55 year old actor issued a $10 million defamation suit against Daniels, the co-creator of smash TV drama ‘Empire’, last September after the director had leapt to the defence of the series’ star Terrence Howard after he’d received intense criticism after admitting striking his ex-wife.

Sean PennSean Penn launched the lawsuit last September

In doing so, Daniels referenced the long-standing and false allegations that Penn and Madonna’s short-lived marriage in the ‘80s turned physically violent. He told the Hollywood Reporter last year that Howard “ain’t done nothing different than Marlon Brando or Sean Penn, and all of a sudden he’s some f***ing demon.”

Penn reacted by suing Daniels for the insinuation, with Madonna soon providing a sworn affidavit that denied that the actor had ever been abusive toward her. “Sean has never struck me, ‘tied me up,’ or physically assaulted me, and any report to the contrary is completely outrageous, malicious, reckless, and false,” her statement read.

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Eight months later, Daniels has backed down and apologised to Penn with a statement released on Wednesday (May 4th). “I am so sorry that I have hurt you, Sean, and I apologize and retract my reckless statements about you. How thoughtless of me. You are someone I consider a friend, a brilliant actor and true Hollywood legend and humanitarian,” it read, adding he was “wrong to reference gossip as fact, as I did here. That can be very damaging and hurtful.”

MadonnaMadonna at the 2016 Met Gala

“Domestic violence is a very serious issue,” he continued. “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 colour in our national conversation.”

In response, Penn acknowledged the apology with his own statement, reading: “I accept Lee’s heartfelt apology and appreciate the sincerity with which it was delivered.”

A “generous” donation was also reportedly made to Penn’s charity, the J/P Haitian Relief Organisation, according to Penn’s lawyer, who refused to specify how large the donation and the settlement were.

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