A court filing Tuesday from Angelina Jolie alleges that on a 2016 flight, Brad Pitt grabbed her by the head and shook her then choked one of their children and struck another when they tried to defend her.
The descriptions of abuse on the private flight came in a cross-complaint Jolie filed in the couple's dispute over a French home and winery they co-owned that is separate from their ongoing divorce, which she sought soon after.
A representative for Pitt, who was not authorised to speak publicly, strongly denied Jolie's allegations and called them “another rehash that only harms the family.”
The allegations of abuse on the plane first became public shortly after the flight, but reports were initially vague and details were kept sealed in divorce documents and investigations by the FBI and Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, both of which found that no action against Pitt was necessary.
A judge gave Pitt 50-50 custody of the children after a closed-door trial in which the allegations were aired. But an appeals court subsequently disqualified the private judge for not disclosing possible conflicts of interest after a motion from Jolie, nullifying the decision.
More details of the allegations were revealed earlier this year when a Jolie lawsuit against the FBI over a Freedom of Information Act request was made public.
The New York Times first reported the court filing.
The filing says that on September 14, 2016, Jolie, Pitt and their six children were travelling from the winery, Chateau Miraval, to Los Angeles.
“Pitt's aggressive behavior started even before the family got to the airport, with Pitt having a confrontation with one of the children. After the flight took off, Jolie approached Pitt and asked him what was wrong,” the filing says. “Pitt accused her of being too deferential to the children and verbally attacked her.” Later, it says, “He pulled her into the bathroom and began yelling at her. Pitt grabbed Jolie by the head and shook her, and then grabbed her shoulders and shook her again before pushing her into the bathroom wall.” One of the children, who were between 8 and 15 years old at the time, verbally defended Jolie, the countersuit says, and Pitt lashed out.
“Pitt lunged at his own child and Jolie grabbed him from behind to stop him. To get Jolie off his back, Pitt threw himself backwards into the airplane's seats injuring Jolie's back and elbow,” the filing says. "The children rushed in and all bravely tried to protect each other. Before it was over, Pitt choked one of the children and struck another in the face." The document says he subsequently poured beer on Jolie and poured beer and red wine on the children.
Jolie gave an account of the flight to two FBI investigators in the days that followed. It appeared in a heavily redacted report later released by the agency.
It included a photo of a bruise on Jolie's elbow and a “rug-burn type injury” on her hand. In it she said that she had seen Pitt have two to three drinks, but said he appeared articulate and not intoxicated.
The investigators met with federal prosecutors, and “It was agreed by all parties that criminal charges in this case would not be pursued due to several factors,” the report says.
An FBI statement said it has “conducted a review of the circumstances and will not pursue further investigation.” The 47-year-old Oscar-winning actor and director Jolie and the 58-year-old Oscar-winning actor Pitt were among Hollywood's most prominent couples for 12 years.
They had been romantic partners for a decade when they married in 2014. Jolie filed for divorce in 2016, and a judge declared them single in 2019, but the divorce case has not been finalised with custody and financial issues still in dispute.