Michael Avenatti, the high-profile lawyer who has been a thorn in Donald Trump’s side ever since taking on Stormy Daniels as a client, has been cleared of all charges in a bizarre claim by a little known actress that he assaulted her during a domestic dispute.
Mareli Miniutti filed a criminal complaint leading to Avenatti’s highly publicized arrest. The story broke on gossip site TMZ and spread like wildfire on Fox News and other hard-right propaganda outlets.
Avenatti heatedly denied the charges and countered that he was being smeared by the same individuals who tried to trump up (no pun intended, well maybe) similar charges against Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
As you may recall, Mueller is investigating President Trump and his campaign for allegedly colluding with the Russians during the 2016 election.
In a statement released on Twitter this afternoon, (Nov. 21), Avenatti thanked the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for declining to file charges against him after what the lawyer called “a fair, careful and thorough investigation.”
“I have maintained my innocence since the moment of my arrest,” he wrote.
But the controversial lawyer isn’t totally out of the soup. The case has been referred to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office to determine whether to charge Avenatti with misdemeanor domestic violence.
Miniutti also filed for a restraining order on Monday (Nov. 19) to prevent Avenatti from approaching her. Otherwise, not much is known about Miniutti or her exact relationship to Avenatti.
She’s been described as a wannabe actress who has had small roles in such films as “Crypto,” a crime drama directed by John Stalberg Jr. and starring Kurt Russell.
The New York Post reported that she statated on her Internet Movie Database (IMDb) page that her role was credited. But IM discovered that she is not listed in the cast credits on the movie’s page.
She also says she has a credited role in the movie “Sargasso,” a film by Adam Sigal that stars Tom Berenger. But she does not appear in cast credits for that movie as well. Her small role in the heist movie “Oceans 8” is also uncredited.
Miniutti said she had been living with Avenatti since January and claimed he’d struck her during another incident in February. The were photographed together at an event in New York City.
Miniutti claimed in a police report that she was Avenatti’s girlfriend. She said he became physically violent during an argument with her at his Century City apartment, according to TMZ.
She submitted photos to the court that she claimed showed injuries she suffered after Avenatti allegedly hit her in the face with pillows.
She set her Instagram account to private shortly after filing the restraining order and has dropped out of sight. Public records show her with an address in Manhattan, according to The Post.
Avenatti unearthed a video she’d posted on Instagram–then deleted–hours after the attack that shows no sign she was struck as she claimed.
He also claimed on Twitter that TMZ honcho Harvey Levin was orchestrating a “hit job” against him on behalf Trump, with whom he is reportedly friends.
TMZ didn’t help matters when it initially reported that the alleged victim was Avenatti’s estranged wife. She later came forward with a statement supporting the lawyer and said he was never violent with her, or any other woman that she knew of.
A hearing in the case is set for Dec. 10.