Jim Carrey Vows He Will Not 'Give in' to 'Desperate Characters' in Wrongful Death Suit Over Ex’s Suicide
Jim Carrey is ready to tell his side of the story in what has become a nasty legal battle regarding his ex-girlfriend Cathriona White's suicide
The actor is currently being sued for wrongful death by White’s estranged husband, Mark Burton, and her mother, Brigid Sweetman. Both are claiming that Carrey used a false name to obtain the drugs that White used to kill herself, and that he provided them to her despite knowing she was prone to depression and had previously attempted suicide. They’re also alleging that Carrey gave White “three STDs without warning her.”
On Friday, Carrey responded with a counter-complaint against White’s attorney Filippo Marchino, his office The X Law Group, Burton and Sweetman, alleging that their lawsuit is just the latest in a series of extortion attempts made against him by members of the group. In fact, Carrey claims in the documents that he had succumbed to their attempts in the past.
According to the cross-complaint obtained by PEOPLE, between March and August of 2013, White, “with the participation and assistance” of Marchino, threatened to “go to the press” with false claims that Carrey had given her STDs. They allegedly supported that claim with records, filed under an alias, that “purportedly” showed she did not have the STDs prior to meeting Carrey.
While both Marchino and White allegedly “knew the claim was false” and that the “mere allegations would impact” Carrey’s career, they persisted in their threats, and the actor, “as many in his position do, succumbed to the demands and privately resolved the issue.”
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“Unfortunately, I made the mistake three years ago of giving in and settling false claims made against me by Mr. Marchino, on behalf of Cat, as mounting a public defense is a very costly and painful process,” Carrey said in a statement.
“At the time I felt Cat was being exploited by Marchino. Since this new case was filed, I have discovered the depth of deception behind those false claims, the kind of deception decent people fall for, because to us, such behavior is unimaginable.
“I will not give in a second time to these same fraudulent charges initiated by Cat’s husband in name but not substance Mark Burton, and her estranged mother. Nor am I responsible for what these desperate characters have inadvertently unearthed about the the woman I adored. I was clearly blinded by my affection. Regardless, I will hold a place of empathy, and forgiveness for Cat and continue to focus on the many blessings in this life.”
In a response, Burton, Marchino and Sweetman’s attorney Michael Avenatti told PEOPLE in a statement, “Jim Carrey is so desperate to avoid the public knowing the truth about his own outrageous conduct, that he has now resorted to outlandish accusations against innocent people. As his interview from a few weeks ago shows, the guy is incoherent and unhinged. He needs help.”
The following is a summary of Carrey’s account of his tumultuous and tragic relationship with White, and his response to the claims levied against him by her mother, estranged husband and lawyer.
Jim and Cat First Meet
Carrey and White, who worked as a makeup artist, met on a film set in 2012 and hit it off. Despite the immediate attraction, there were some complications in White’s life. “Almost immediately, she began bemoaning her circumstances,” the counter complaint states. For instance, the Ireland-native was allegedly living in the country illegally, had no permanent residence, no source of income, no car and no healthcare.
When White’s father died not long after they started dating, Carrey agreed to let her stay at his home in Malibu while she grieved. But before long, “Cat began pressuring Jim to marry her,” per the documents. The duo had recently been photographed together by paparazzi, and White feared the extra attention could become a problem for her immigration status. “She was afraid that she would be contacted by INS and deported,” the countersuit explains.
Marriage and Cat’s First Suicide Note
But Carrey “had fallen” for her, and in October of 2012, he hired a lawyer to begin drafting a prenuptial agreement, while White consulted her own attorney. But as they continued to talk about getting married, Carrey began to feel that, “despite his strong feelings” towards her, the circumstances of their engagement “felt fraudulent.”
In late October, Carrey talked to White, letting her know that he’d had a change of heart about the marriage. According to the countersuit, Carrey expressed a “willingness to continue to date and support her, including helping her retain an immigration attorney to assist her in obtaining legal residency.”
Nevertheless, White drafted a suicide note the next day with similar language to the note found after her death nearly three years later: “I just don’t belong to this world I don’t fit … I love Jim and I am sorry I brought turmoil into his life.” Carrey only learned of this initial note after her death, he says.
Despite their conversation, White continued to pressure Carrey into marriage, per the documents — and when he asked her to “slow down,” she “lashed out.” Yet they continued seeing each other, with Carrey providing a luxury apartment in Santa Monica, an $800 weekly allowance and a number of other expenses, including medical and dental work. That Christmas, he even bought the gifts she sent to her family in Ireland.
It was around this time that Carrey first asked White to sign a confidentiality and non-disclosure agreement, which he felt would “protect him from disclosure of private information and personal, sometimes intimate, photographs and messages.” He also offered to continue supporting her financially for a year, regardless of their dating status.
The First Breakup and Marriage to Burton
By the beginning of 2013, Carrey felt that he needed time to himself. “While he cared deeply for her, he felt she needed to develop her own identity and get her life in order,” the countersuit states, adding that Carrey “was terribly conflicted.” In reaction to the breakup, White allegedly attempted to take her life.
Within days of the alleged attempt on her life, White boarded a bus to Las Vegas, Nevada, where she married an acquaintance, Burton, on January 15, 2013. The countersuit claims, and it has been previously reported, that White and Burton only married so that she could obtain legal residency in the U.S. The documents also allege that White agreed to pay Burton $30,000 for the favor, and that she had previously attempted to convince other men to do the same.
“At one point, she even staged a phony wedding and posted pictures of it on Facebook,” the countersuit claims, adding that, “On another, she was set to marry a man she was seeing until she learned he was already married.”
Furthermore, White and Burton “had never dated, had never lived together and they never intended to live as husband and wife.” The documents even claim that Burton was “hooking up” with one of White’s friends at the time of their marriage.
The First Alleged Extortion Attempt
When White returned to Los Angeles, Carrey continued setting up meetings for her with an immigration attorney. He only learned of her marriage, and alleged suicide attempt, days later from his assistant. During this time, Carrey also continued asking White to sign a confidentiality agreement, which she had initially agreed to do.
Around January 20, White had a “wax job, which caused irritation and bumps under her arms and in her vaginal area.” She sent Burton pictures of her underarms to show him the “bumps,” also writing “you should see the state of my vagina.”
A few days after texting Burton, White reached out to Carrey, whom she hadn’t been speaking with at the time, telling him that she was “concerned about the bumps in her vaginal area and fearful that she may have STDs.” The documents note that she did not mention the fear of STDs to her new husband.
Just a few days later, White texted Carrey back that she had seen a doctor about the bumps, who told her she was “clean” and that “her vagina was perfect.” She also said that the doctor ascribed the bumps to the bad wax job.
The duo got back together for the middle of February, spending Valentine’s Day together and going out with friends. But before long they split again, with Carrey urging White to “concentrate on her own identity and career.” She was “extremely upset” and “lashed out” at Carrey, saying “terrible things about him,” per the countersuit.
After the breakup, White and her attorney Marchino, allegedly “began making demands upon Jim to pay her several million dollars or she would publicly accuse him of giving her STDs.” Despite telling Carrey that she was “completely clean” before they started dating, the docs state that she “knew she had Herpes I and Herpes II before meeting Jim, and had a history of breakouts and infections.”
During this time, “Marchino and Mark Burton … encouraged, pressured, and pushed Cat to get millions of dollars from Jim and to take him for all that she could,” the docs state, adding, “For her part, Cat was angry and upset by the breakup, and wanted to hurt Jim as badly as she could.”
Although the sum Carrey paid was “substantially less than the millions of dollars sought and demanded,” the documents state the money and property were “obtained illegally.” Per California law, Carrey claims he’s entitled to recover three times the actual damages sustained plus attorneys fees.
Back Together Again
For the next fifteen months, Carrey and White didn’t speak to one another. She broke the silence “out of the blue” in Nov. 2014, sending an email to Carrey saying that she had heard their favorite song playing on the radio and thought of him. She also wrote that he would hardly recognize her because she had “grown so much” and is a much “stronger woman.” She ended it, “I miss you and hope you are well Jim. You’re a good man.”
When Carrey responded to her email, White apologized for the past, saying “she had been pressured into making the false allegations” and that “she had done it because she was angry and wanted to hurt him.” After talking things out and “considering [her] personal apology,” Carrey decided to give the relationship another shot.
By May 2015, the duo had fallen back in love and were planning on moving in together at the end of the year. They even had their respective attorneys work out a co-habitation agreement. At the time, White had found a home in Sherman Oaks, with Carrey paying for the lease, security equipment and other related expenses. White’s body would later be found at the house after her suicide.
By White’s thirtieth birthday on Sept. 14, 2015, things seemed to be looking up, both for her individually and for the two of them as a couple. But her mood began to unravel after she received a nasty Facebook message from her mother “telling her she was worthless and would never amount to anything.” The comment devastated her and “she cried in a fetal position as Jim did his best to try to comfort and console her.” Already estranged from Sweetman, White decided to cut off all contact with her biological mother.
Around this time, problems also began creeping up with their plans to move in together. Given the “false claims previously made by” White, Carrey was insistent on hammering out a “strong and unambiguous” confidentiality agreement. Despite her initial willingness to sign one, the docs state that “Cat became sensitive and angry about the confidentiality terms,” adding that, “She said she found reading the terms upsetting, at one point telling Jim that it did not make her feel good to have to read it.”
While she seemed to be in good spirits in the weeks leading up to her death, the countersuit claim she was “nonetheless burdened by her mother’s birthday message, by the anniversary of her father’s death, and particularly by the weight and guilt of her prior false claims against Jim and how deeply that had hurt him.”
On Sept. 28, 2015, White took her own life by taking a “cocktail of pills, some her own, others secretly taken by her from Jim’s home.” The documents state that White had been given pain medication following a recent breast augmentation surgery, and had also recently filled a prescription for Vicodin. Her final suicide note reflected much of the same language she had written “over years,” often using the phrase “I am not for this world.” At the time, Carrey was unaware of the previous notes.
According to previous court documents obtained by PEOPLE, a 20-day jury trial date has been set for April 26, 2018. A mediation status conference is also scheduled for Sept. 21, 2017.