Tom Cruise: I never 'abandoned' Suri
(Los Angeles) CNN — Tom Cruise is defending his relationship with daughter Suri, denying that she felt "abandoned" last summer when he was divorcing her mother, actress Katie Holmes.
Cruise's sworn affidavit was filed in federal court Tuesday as part of the actor's defamation lawsuit against a tabloid publisher; it was made public Wednesday.
"The assertion that I 'abandoned' Suri after my divorce is patently false," Cruise said. "I have in no way cut Suri out of my life whether physically, emotionally, financially or otherwise."
His lawyers are trying to force Bauer Publishing Group to disclose any sources that support the headlines and stories published by the company's Life & Style and InTouch magazines.
Tabloid lawyers: Headlines are 'true or substantially true'
The publisher said in a statement Thursday that both magazines "stand behind the reporting and articles at issue in Mr. Cruise's action."
"This litigation has established that the editorial teams had a wealth of evidence substantiating that following his divorce from Ms. Holmes, Mr. Cruise was absent from his daughter for long periods of time, that seeing her was not his first priority and that she was emotionally struggling as a result of her father's extended absences," Bauer Publishing said. "Mr. Cruise does not challenge the accuracy of any of the underlying facts that informed the opinions expressed by the editorial teams at In Touch and Life & Style."
The tabloids' lawyers argued in a response filed in court in December that Cruise can't win "because he is a public figure and the Bauer defendants did not act with actual malice."
"The articles reported on an issue of legitimate public interest," the publisher said in Thursday's statement. "Mr. Cruise has repeatedly promoted himself as being a devoted father who made his family his top priority. Now, with his own admissions, it is clear that the picture he strives to paint is not accurate. It is entirely in keeping with responsible reporting to question Mr. Cruise's self-promotion and to inform the public about the truth."
The publisher's court filing said that Cruise "did not dispute that he had not visited Suri for over two months, despite previously assuring his daughter that he would be spending a lot of time with her after his divorce."
The July 18, 2012, Life & Style cover carried the headline "SURI IN TEARS, ABANDONED BY HER DAD" along with a photo of the child. There was no accompanying story to support or explain the headline.
A story inside the July 30, 2012, Life & Style read "Suri's emotional troubles," under a photograph of Suri appearing to have tears in her eyes while in her mother's arms, the suit said. The story reveals that it was "as a result of Suri being upset over not being able to take a puppy home from a pet store."
The complaint also points to an InTouch cover story from September 2012 headlined "44 DAYS WITHOUT TOM ... ABANDONED BY DADDY ... Suri is left heartbroken as Tom suddenly shuts her out and even misses her first day of school... HAS HE CHOSEN SCIENTOLOGY OVER SURI FOR GOOD?"
Cruise: Suri and I are 'extremely close'
Cruise said his daughter often traveled with him when he traveled around the world to make movies, which "allowed me to see my daughter while still fulfilling my obligations to my work, my colleagues, and the studios that hire me."
Suri, now 7, stayed with Holmes and attended school in New York while Cruise worked on two back-to-back film projects in Iceland and the United Kingdom from June to December last year, he said. "As a result of the changed circumstances following the divorce, we were not able to see each other as often as we did prior to the divorce."
Still, Cruise said, he was able to see his daughter several times during that period.
"But even during the times when I was working overseas and was not able to see Suri in person, we were (and continue to be) extremely close," he said. "We spoke on the phone nearly every day, and I regularly asked for and received updates concerning her friends and school life, which I then discussed with her during our regular phone calls."
E-mails with Holmes prove that he "was a constant presence in Suri's life during the time that defendants claim falsely that I abandoned her," he said.
The tabloid headlines suggesting that Suri was "feeling abandoned" by him are "patently false," he said.
"While I'm sure my daughter misses me when I am not with her (as I miss her), she is a very happy child, and we have a wonderful relationship and cheerful phone calls," he said. "She has never indicated, in words or substance, that she has ever felt abandoned by me."
A hearing in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles is set for November 26 for arguments about the tabloids' sources for the stories.
Cruise's lawsuit is asking for $50 million in damages from the publisher.
Cruise lawyer: 'Serial defamers' sell 'malicious garbage'
Cruise lawyer Bert Fields sent two letters informing the publisher that the headlines were false and demanding retractions, but he was refused in each case, the lawsuit said.
"These serial defamers are foreign-owned companies with their global headquarters in Hamburg (Germany)," Fields said in October 2012, when he filed the lawsuit. "They take money from unsuspecting Americans by selling their malicious garbage. Having to pay a libel judgment may slow them down."
Since the magazines are displayed at supermarket checkout lines, "millions of people each day must see their covers which feature screaming headlines in huge, brightly colored letters that are typically of a false, lurid and titillating nature, and that are often entirely unsupported by the stories buried in the magazines' interiors," the suit said.
"Tom doesn't go around suing people," Fields said. "He's not a litigious guy. But when these sleaze peddlers try to make money with disgusting lies about his relationship with his child, you bet he's going to sue."
Cruise will "undoubtedly" donate any judgment proceeds to charity, Fields said. "He always has."