Britney Spears' father seeks court probe of her allegations
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Britney Spears' father has asked the court overseeing his daughter's conservatorship to investigate her statements to a judge last week on the court's control of her medical treatment and personal life, which she called overly restrictive and abusive.
James Spears emphasized in a pair of documents filed late Tuesday night that he has had no power over his daughter's personal affairs for nearly two years.
His filing says the court must investigate "serious allegations regarding forced labor, forced medical treatment and therapy, improper medical care, and limitations on personal rights."
"Given the nature of the allegations and claims, it is critical that that the court confirm whether or not Ms. Spears' testimony was accurate in order to determine what corrective actions, if any, need to be taken," the documents said.
The filings come a week after Britney Spears spoke for the first time in open court in the conservatorship that has controlled her life and money for 13 years. She condemned those with power over her, saying she has been forced to perform live shows, compelled to use an intrauterine device for birth control, made to take lithium and other medications against her will, and prevented from getting married or having another child.
"I truly believe this conservatorship is abusive," Spears said.
James Spears controlled his daughter's personal life for most of the existence of the conservatorship, but he now oversees only her money and business dealings along with an estate-management firm. A court-appointed professional, Jodi Montgomery, has had power over Britney Spears' personal decisions since her father relinquished that role, known as conservator of the person, in 2019.
"Mr. Spears is not the conservator of the person. He has not been the conservator of the person since September 2019," one of the court filings says. "Ms. Montgomery has been fully in charge of Ms. Spears day-to-day personal care and medical treatment."
Montgomery, whose appointment Britney Spears supported, is serving temporarily. The court was expected to make her role permanent, but one of James Spears' filings says his daughter's criticism of Montgomery last week suggests that she doesn't want her in the role.
James Spears says that when he was conservator over his daughter's personal decisions, he did everything in his power to support her well-being, including consenting to her getting married in 2012 and sharing conservatorship duties with her fiance. Spears was engaged to former manager Jason Trawick in 2012, but the couple broke it off in 2013.
Montgomery's attorney Lauriann Wright said in a statement in response that "conservatorships in California are subject to the strictest laws in the nation to protect against any potential abuses," and that Montgomery is "a licensed private professional fiduciary who, unlike family members who serve as conservators, is required to follow a Code of Ethics."
Wright said Britney Spears' right to marry or have more children are not affected by the conservatorship, and that Montgomery has had no say in those matters since she took on the job.
"I can state unequivocally that Jodi Montgomery has been a tireless advocate for Britney and for her well-being," Wright said, adding that "it is her sincere personal wish that Britney continues to make meaningful progress in her well-being so that her conservatorship of the person can be terminated."
Montgomery is creating a care plan with that end in mind, the statement said.
James Spears' filing is also critical of Britney Spears' personal attorney Samuel L. Ingham III, saying that he wrongly asserted in a recent filing that the court had found Spears did not have capacity to consent to medical treatment and is using that as a pretext for a court order taking away her right to give informed consent.
An email sent to Ingham seeking comment was not immediately returned.
While Britney Spears was critical of both Montgomery and Ingham in her impassioned speech of more than 20 minutes, she singled out her father for some of her most scathing criticism.
She accused him of relishing his power over her, as he showed when she failed a series of psychological tests in 2019 and forced her to go into a mental hospital.
"I cried on the phone for an hour, and he loved every minute of it," Spears said. "The control he had over someone as powerful as me, as he loved the control to hurt his own daughter 100,000%."
James Spears said through his lawyer at the hearing that he was sorry to see his daughter was in so much pain.
He said in his court filings that it is imperative that "all parties be provided a full and fair opportunity to respond to allegations and claims asserted against them."
"Either the allegations will be shown to be true, in which case corrective action will be taken," the documents say, "or they will be shown to be false, in which case the conservatorship can continue its course. It is not acceptable for the Conservators or the Court to do nothing."
Spears told Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny that she wanted the conservatorship to end, but she has not filed a petition with the court to end it.
"I want changes going forward," she said. "I deserve changes."
Ingham said in court that she had not asked him to. Britney Spears said in court that she was unaware she could petition to end it.
Penny called Britney Spears' comments courageous, but gave no clue about the actions she'll take. An investigation and many more legal moves are likely before she makes decision.