Inside Mel B and Stephen Belafonte's Twisted Divorce: Explosive Allegations and Love Gone Wrong From the Start

As signs of dysfunction piled up, singer accused her husband of almost 10 years of abuse, infidelity and attempted extortion, insisting she tried to leave multiple times but feared for her safety

By Natalie Finn Apr 12, 2017 12:00 PMTags

Having spent half her life onstage, whether as part the Spice Girls or as a judge on The X Factor and America's Got Talent, Mel B has taken part in so many joyous moments—both her own and those belonging to the aspiring stars who craved approval from the British pop icon.

Now it's hard not to wonder how many times over the past decade she was faking it for the cameras.

When the singer, whose real name is Melanie Brown, filed for divorce on March 20 after nearly 10 years of marriage, on first glance it looked like a run-of-the-mill state of celebrity affairs—"irreconcilable differences," a request for joint custody of her 5-year-old daughter.

But the proceedings took an as yet irreversible turn for the ugly when, on April 3, Brown obtained a restraining order against Stephen Belafonte, alleging in court documents that he had been physically and verbally abusive throughout their marriage, starting in 2007 on the night she appeared on the Dancing With the Stars finale.

Also among the disturbing allegations: that he got their nanny pregnant and used Mel's money to pay for an abortion; that he demanded she have sex with him and "random women," after which he'd threaten to release tapes he made of the encounters if she ever crossed him; and that he kept a gun in their home, despite not being allowed to have one due to a prior domestic violence conviction. (In 2003 he pleaded no contest in L.A. County to domestic battery against Nicole Contreras, the mother of his first child, and was sentenced to 36 months of summary probation and 30 days in jail; he was able to pull 20 days of community labor with Caltrans instead of jail time.)

Mel B Accuses Stephen Belafonte of Multiple Abuses and Impregnating the Nanny

Brown attempted to leave him multiple times, she stated in the filing, but "he threatened me with violence and threatened to destroy my life in every possible way... destroy my career and take my kids from me." In the TRO petition she also insisted on obtaining sole custody of daughter Madison, different from her original request for joint custody, with no visitation privileges for Belafonte. 

In her complaint she also detailed a suicide attempt in 2014. In December of that year, Mel B's husband was publicly accused of abusing her after she missed an episode of the U.K.'s X Factor because she had been rushed to the hospital, and the next night showed up on TV with visible bruises. (Sources told TMZ days ago that Simon Cowell had encouraged her to leave her husband.)

"Idon't [sic] usually respond to Twitter msgs but I will respond to comments of hitting my wife which I think are quite disgusting un true!" Belafonte tweeted at the time. "Mel was very ill a bunch of doctors helped her get better if fans can't just relax B4 being negative they r not real fans of @OfficialMelB."

Brown included photos of those bruises in her TRO petition, stating "I still had visible facial and body wounds from Respondent's abuse."


Needless to say, a judge granted the TRO on April 3; he later issued a separate order on April 7 prohibiting Belafonte from releasing any photos, videos or other sexually explicit material involving Brown.

"What matters most to Mr. Belafonte is the safety and well-being of his daughters and step-daughters. It's a shame that Ms. Brown elected not to proceed in a respectful and amicable fashion in this very private matter," his lawyers said in a statement obtained by E! News on April 5. 

"In due course, Mr. Belafonte will be filing his response to the outrageous and unfounded allegations made by Ms. Brown, which allegations he vehemently denies. When the Court determines the truth, it will become clear that this entire charade was nothing more than a smear campaign intended to cover up Ms. Brown's own conduct during the marriage in light of her current involvement with a family television show, and in an effort to unfairly gain leverage both financially and with respect to custody of the children."

The statement concluded: "When the degree to which Ms. Brown has gone to create a false depiction of her marriage to Mr. Belafonte is uncovered, real victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse will be understandably offended, angry and upset. Mr. Belafonte is confident that the truth will come out when he has his day in court at which time he looks forward to being reunited with his children. In the meantime, Mr. Belafonte requests that he and his children be given the space they deserve during this challenging time."

Phillip Faraone/Getty Images)

TMZ got Belafonte on video before he requested space, however, and The Sun posted the footage, in which he told a reporter outside his house that he was "shocked" by Brown's allegations.

"So I force her to have threesomes? OK," he said. "You know what my comment to this is actually because that is the mother of my children—I really, really, really am really distraught in my brain how this is going to affect our children and the depths that she's gone to...I think someone's trying to set me up to look like a bad guy. You saw my house got raided and no one found anything. It's accusation after accusation, but we'll have our day in court."

TMZ had reported that federal agents from the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms patted Belafonte down and searched their Hollywood Hills home for illegal weapons on March 31. 

Belafonte also told TMZ, "We have children, we have beautiful children, and if anyone knows our children, they're beautiful, amazing kids that are on social media, why do this? We were friends two weeks ago and now all of a sudden the team gets around and now it's got to be this. I guess someone's making a lot of money off this, mainly the lawyers."

Big Celebrity Breakups

Mel B would ultimately state in her TRO filing that she decided to leave Belafonte once and for all after the death of her father, Martin, after a long battle with cancer.

She arrived in Leeds, England, on Feb. 28—her filing states that she believes Belafonte hid her passport to prevent her from going, requiring her to apply for an emergency passport—and her dad died March 4.

Brown stated that she moved out of their house on March 18 and he again threatened to "ruin" her by releasing the videotapes he claimed to have if she didn't "separate in a manner acceptable to him."

So she filed for divorce. A couple days later, TMZ reported that she and Belafonte attended a counseling session with Madison and Mel's two other daughters from previous relationships, Angel (who's since turned 10) and 18-year-old Phoenix—supposedly a major breakthrough for the family.

But matters quickly went downhill.

Brown flew back to Leeds to attend her father's funeral on March 24; fellow Spice Girl Emma Bunton was among the mourners in attendance. While she was away, Belafonte was photographed chatting up a so-called mystery woman in New York.

Mel B Had a Four-Year Relationship With a Woman, Assures Fans She's Happily Married to a Penis

A few days later, Belafonte's brother, Jeremiah, talked to the Kyle and Jackie O Show in Australia and described Stephen's marriage as "a very fun, loose, open kind of relationship," but a relationship that could easily lose its luster if one person took advantage of the situation and didn't respect the other's feelings.

"He's not a bad guy by any means, but he can be a little rough around the edges and he wasn't probably picking up on the signs that Melanie wasn't quite happy," Jeremiah said.

Then, according to the Daily Mail, a photo that Belafonte had posted on Instagram a year ago, a close-up of what appears to be his mouth next to two pairs of women's legs, had resurfaced online. "Is that my mouth?? Is that @officialmelb ring?" he previously captioned the photo (it's unclear where this pic first "reemerged" in the days following the divorce filing).

Whatever it was that prompted her to take the next step, ATF agents raided the house on March 31 and on April 3 Mel B secured the temporary restraining order, which required that Belafonte steer clear of her, her three children and their house, which is currently on the market for almost $8 million (after the price was lowered by $1 million that same day).

Also on April 3, in a relatively benign gesture amid all the explosive allegations, Belafonte filed his divorce response, asking for joint legal and physical custody of Madison. However, while Brown had cited their date of separation as Dec. 28, 2016, he wrote that it was March 1 and petitioned the court to award him spousal support and order Brown to pay his legal fees.


After Belafonte fired back at the abuse allegations, Mel B's sister Danielle Brown entered the fray on her sister's behalf on April 6, writing on Instagram:

"Dear all media I won't be selling a story on my sister never have and never will!! Here is my comment below so you can now leave me and my mum alone and let us be united and grieve the loss of my dad. @stephenthinks11 8 years of abusive calls me and my mum have had stating we would never see Melanie again.

"I am laughing and celebrating as you were are a sorry excuse of a man !!" Then she quoted Beyoncé's "Irreplaceable," wrote, "I hope you Lorraine Giles [actually Gilles, the nanny he allegedly impregnated] and Michael Bleu [the nanny's husband] go to jail and rot in hell !!" and punctuated the sentiment with a variety of hashtags, including "#wifebeater" and "#mydadisdancinginhisgrave."

After Mel B missed that episode of The X Factor in 2014, Danielle (not in touch with her sister at the time), tweeted, "STOP @stephenthinks1 with your evil lies!! You told me and my mum yesterday she is fine and not in hospital @SimonCowell just doing press!" And, "@stephenthinks1 and now you say she is sick but ok Where is my sister??? What have you done??...@stephenthinks1 if I have 2go press I will! Ive recorded all your calls 4 the past week including your 330am abusive call and Mel visit 2dad."

There were multiple reports that Brown's marriage had caused a rift with her family because they disliked Belafonte, but they reconciled before her dad passed away.

Celebs and Their Parents

A source told E! News then that Belafonte had been denying Mel B's allegations to his friends, saying he never laid a hand on her and that "he will be telling his side of the story soon."

On April 7 her lawyer secured the injunction barring Belafonte from disseminating any sexually explicit material of her, claiming he had repeatedly threatened to post videos online. He "would regularly hold up his phone to me and point to a video file and say, 'It's just one click away,' meaning that with one click he could send out a video and my career would be over," Brown stated in the new filing.

Vince Flores/

Belafonte then reiterated to London's Sunday Mirror on April 8 that his kids "are the only things that matter" to him.

"I'm going to have to get off the phone because family court frowns on that," he said. "It is in the hands of my lawyers. My kids are the only thing that matter to me."

With an April 24 hearing on Brown's request to extend the restraining order coming up, he then filed a request to get visitation rights with Angel, Mel B's 10-year-old daughter with Eddie Murphy.

America's Got Talent Judges Reveal How Mel B Is Coping On-Set Following Divorce

A source tells E! News that Belafonte "really seemed like a father figure" to Madison, who was 2 months old when Mel B married him. "He was a daily presence in her life."

"In family law, hypothetically, if you came to an attorney and said you were a step [parent] to a potential child and you were going through a divorce, the family code does allow for step parent visitation, as does it allow for grandparent visitation, depending on what's in the best interest for the minor child," another source, an expert on family law in the state of California who has knowledge of the situation, tells E! News.

On April 2, before the TRO barred him from seeing them, Belafonte posted a video of himself at lunch with Angel and Madison in which he wished the former an early happy birthday.

"Everybody wish my beautiful daughter a happy's Angel's birthday on Monday. She's having her little fun today because she's going to the isles with her mommy. So today is her birthday sushi!"

Meanwhile, since the TRO, at least two women have come out of the woodwork, alleging in stories told to British tabloids that they had threesomes with Brown and Belafonte.

Just yesterday E! News learned that Brown had also secured a restraining order against Lorraine Gilles, the nanny she claims Belafonte impregnated. She alleged in the TRO filing that Gilles and Belafonte have been threatening to release sex tapes and compromising photos unless she rehired Gilles—and gave her a raise. According to Brown, they've been hoarding the materials in question, as well as other personal items of hers, including Spice Girls memorabilia, in a public storage unit that Gilles rented.

A source had previously told us that when Belafonte's attorneys were in court last week over the sex tape issue, their client insisted he didn't know what his ex was even talking about. "There's no threat for any release of a sex tape or that one even exists," the source said.

MOVI Inc. / Splash News

At this point, almost everything Mel B has said about Belafonte and their relationship in the past seems laden with unfortunate meaning.

In 2015, not long after prompting people's concern with that X Factor appearance, she told Hello! that the only problem with her marriage was the people who refused to believe there wasn't a problem.

"Stephen is the beginning and the end of my world. He gets me and I get him," she said.

"I love having a family," Brown added. "Everyone goes through good and bad times and that's what family life is about. But I love the place I'm in now. Stephen treats me like a queen and I treat him like a king—but we're not like that all the time."

And she herself seemed to be acknowledging an inordinate amount of struggles on Feb. 6 (after their separation, going by her initial divorce filing), in a shout-out to her husband on Instagram.

"My baby boo@stephenthinks11," she captioned a close-up photo of them. "we have been through everything that would normally tear couples apart and we have come out on the other side stronger,you loved me before I even new how to really love myself,you are my world honey and let's not forget you are abit of a dickhead too xxxx#tenyearsmarried#fightfortheineyoulove#theysaiditwouldntlast#bitcheswishtheyhadthis#nowtalkaboutme."

But by March, enough had been enough.