FBI looking into abuse claims against Brad Pitt

LOS ANGELES • The FBI said it is evaluating whether it should investigate allegations against Brad Pitt, whose split with actress Angelina Jolie was revealed on Tuesday.

Its statement came after The Los Angeles Police Department denied reports that Pitt was being probed for child abuse and said the authorities had received no such allegations against the actor.

Several media outlets on Tuesday reported that Pitt had been verbally and physically abusive to at least one of his six children during an angry outburst that contributed to Jolie seeking a divorce.

Celebrity website TMZ said Los Angeles police began probing the actor based on an anonymous tip received by the Department of Children and Family Services, as is systematic following any report of child abuse.

The report came days after Jolie, 41, filed for divorce from Pitt, 52, citing irreconcilable differences and seeking custody of their kids.

The source reportedly told the authorities that Pitt began screaming and "getting physical" with his children on a private jet from France to the United States, possibly under the influence, and then continued ranting after the plane landed.

"We have no report in our record for any filings for Brad Pitt, we are not having any investigations regarding Brad Pitt," police spokesman Lorenzo Quezada said.

The LA County Department of Children and Family Services (LADCFS) also denied that it had confirmed to any media outlets the allegations against Pitt.

"Contrary to what's been published in several places, this office has not told anyone or confirmed that we are involved with any specific client as reported elsewhere," spokesman Neil Zanville said. He said his office was legally prohibited from discussing any ongoing investigations regarding any clients, celebrity or otherwise.

Late on Thursday, FBI issued a statement to the media saying, "In response to your inquiry regarding allegations within the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States; specifically, an aircraft carrying Mr Brad Pitt and his children, the FBI is continuing to gather facts and will evaluate whether an investigation at the federal level will be pursued."

The FBI was informed about a "child welfare" incident involving "unruly behaviour" by Pitt with his child present, while on an international flight last week, the Los Angeles Times quoted an unnamed law enforcement source as saying.

Various reports cited sources as saying said Pitt had a verbal argument with Maddox, 15, who was adopted from Cambodia by Jolie. A source close to the actor told USA Today that the abuse claims "are greatly exaggerated or fabricated", and that the actor "is cooperating" and "has been interviewed by the LADCFS".

The split spells the end of Brangelina, one of Hollywood's highest- profile celebrity couples.

The A-listers wed in France in August two years ago, but have been a couple since 2004. They have three biological and three adopted children together.

AGENCE FRANCE- PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 24, 2016, with the headline 'FBI looking into abuse claims against Brad Pitt'. Print Edition | Subscribe