A former bodyguard who told a Los Angeles judge about Britney Spears’ alleged substance abuse and bizarre behavior wants nothing more than to know that the troubled pop star’s young children are safe.
“I’m not here to destroy Britney. I’m here for the kids,” Tony Barretto told TODAY co-host Matt Lauer during an exclusive interview Monday. “I’m here to speak out on their behalf.”
Last week, a Los Angeles judge determined that Spears has engaged in the “habitual, frequent and continuous use of controlled substances and alcohol” and ordered her to take parenting classes and undergo random drug and alcohol testing twice a week.
The ruling was in connection with the court battle between Spears and her ex-husband, Kevin Federline, over primary custody of the couple’s two children, Sean Preston, 2, and Jayden James, 1.
Barretto has come forward as the “secret witness” who made a declaration to the court testifying to Spears’ drug and alcohol abuse and other bizarre and dangerous behavior. The details of the declaration are sealed, but Barretto has talked about Spears driving into oncoming traffic with her children in the car, walking around her house nude, screaming and acting irrationally, allegedly doing illegal drugs in a nightclub on two occasions and drinking.
Another judge later charged her with misdemeanor hit-and-run and driving without a license for a traffic accident in a parking lot that she did not report.
Barretto’s attorney, Gloria Allred, said that his declaration was the only testimony speaking to Spears’ behavior after she left rehab earlier this year.
“I think the judge gave [his testimony] great weight,” she said, adding that Spears’ attorneys did not challenge him in court.
Barretto, a 6-foot-7 giant of a man, worked for Spears for less than three months and was fired, he says, for failing to hear her order him to pick up her hat, which she had dropped. He said revenge is not a motivation.
“I think it would be inhuman for someone to make those allegations,” he said.
Reluctant witnessBarretto has said he was reluctant to come forward, fearful of being identified and pursued by the tabloid press, but, he told Lauer, he felt he needed to speak out.
“I just wanted to make sure the public and the court and her fans know the truth, and it’s very hard to get that point across,” he said.
He talked about two occasions at a Los Angeles nightclub when he saw her doing drugs.
“One was at her table. She had me hold up a curtain to make her area private,” he said. “At one point it was getting kind of hard to continue to hold the curtain for such a long period of time. The attempt was to look over and get her approval to let go of the curtain, at which point, I noticed what she was doing.”
He said the second incident was at the same Los Angeles club.“The other occasion, we escorted her to a private rest room upstairs that was secured for her,” he continued. “She was in there for some time alone, and I was waiting for her outside the door. I thought it would be appropriate to check on her, and I knocked and peeked in and I observed this behavior.”Barretto has said that she was using a white powdery substance that he assumed to be either cocaine or methamphetamine. He said he also frequently saw her drinking Jack Daniel’s and Coke, but wouldn’t offer an opinion about whether she was abusing alcohol.
“That’s one’s personal opinion,” he said. “I don’t know if abuse is the correct language. I have seen her drink alcohol and that would be up to the courts to decide whether it was abuse or a drink.”
He also confirmed that he once found her apparently under the influence of drugs and alcohol in a hotel room.
It’s about the kids
Barretto has also said that Spears had little enthusiasm for parenting and frequently left her children with her bodyguards to care for. He did say that he never saw her use drugs in front of the children.
As a father himself, Barretto said that motivated him to make sure her sons came to no harm.
“My frustrations at times when I worked for her was not being able to protect them from her, and I have accomplished that now,” he said.
“I’m just happy that the judge has stepped in and put some elements in place to give her hope.”
Barretto said it was impossible for anyone in her circle to get through to Spears.
“It was almost forbidden to talk to her about her personal life,” he said. “Britney doesn’t listen to nobody. That’s apparent.”