Even though she says Mel Gibson hit her and their child, threatened her with a gun and put her in fear for her life, Oksana Grigorieva insists she still wants him to be a part of their 11-month-old daughter Lucia’s life — and not just financially.
That revelation is part of an exclusive interview the 40-year-old Grigorieva gave People magazine — one that reveals details of a relationship meltdown that has led to a flurry of sometimes shocking accusations, along with one of the most spectacular public downfalls ever of a powerful Hollywood celebrity.
Speaking with Meredith Vieira on TODAY Wednesday, the magazine’s deputy managing editor, Peter Castro, said that despite everything, Grigorieva still has charity in her heart for Gibson.
“She’s very Christian and she believes in forgiveness,” Castro said. “She knows that she’s going to have this man in her life for the rest of her life, and I think her thinking is, ‘I better make the best of this situation: I want to forgive him, I want to get on.’ He is, after all, the father of that child.”
Punches and a gun
Gibson, 54, began dating Grigorieva in December 2007, a year after he separated from Robin Gibson, his wife of 26 years and mother of seven of Mel’s children. Robin filed for divorce from Gibson in April 2009, shortly after learning Oksana was pregnant with what would become Mel’s eighth child.
Daughter Lucia was born last Oct. 30, but it was only weeks later that the relationship turned ugly — and, claims Grigorieva, potentially deadly.
The dramatic People magazine headline, “I Was Scared For My Life,” reflects what happened between the couple on Jan. 6. Grigorieva said she had already seen hints of a dark side in Gibson that she believes was driven by clinical depression — but things exploded that night.
“That’s when she alleges she went to the house; he was unhappy with the baby sitter,” Castro told Vieira. “That’s when he was frothing at the mouth, contorted his face, and as she tried to leave this rage, she alleges he punched her twice — once in the head, once in the mouth.
“When she grabbed her keys to get out of there, that’s when he, she says, pulled a gun and started waving it.”
One of the blows landed on baby Lucia, who was then only 9 weeks old, Grigorieva told People.
“One of the blows hit her on the chin and continued and hit Lucia in the chin,” Castro said. “It was a slight cut, but nothing serious, says Oksana.”
In a separate interview with Access Hollywood, Castro said that Oksana also told People that during Gibson’s Jan. 6 rampage, she instructed her 13-year-old son Alexander (from a previous relationship with actor Timothy Dalton) to hide under a bed because she also feared for his safety.
Still, while she contacted her attorney and mother, Grigorieva did not notify police. “She said two reasons: one, nothing enrages Mel Gibson more than humiliation. She literally feared that if she went to the police that he would kill her.
“The other thing is that she was so shaken, she says that calling the police was not the first thing on her mind.”
Still, despite what Grigorieva called a horrifying episode, she took the Oscar-winning actor back. “[Oksana said] he got on his knees, he begged, [gave her] flowers; he said, ‘I’m in therapy,’ ” Castro said.
But six weeks later, Grigorieva alleges Gibson abused Lucia. “She alleges he threw Lucia into her arms and says, ‘You better take her, because I’m going to hurt her.’ And that’s when she realized, I better leave this guy forever,” Castro told Vieira.
Charges and counterclaims
It was shortly after that the public circus began. The website RadarOnline.com started leaking taped conversations between Gibson and Grigorieva, conversations that she claims she taped as evidence Gibson intended to kill her.
Because of those tapes, Gibson is under investigation for domestic violence. But Gibson’s attorneys claim Grigorieva tried to extort money from him in exchange for not making the tapes public.
Grigorieva insists she didn’t leak the tapes and doesn’t know who did. Public speculation has ranged from Israeli spies (Gibson gained notoriety for an anti-Semitic rant during a 2006 drunken driving arrest) to Oksana’s sister.
Grigorieva has said she did indeed give her sister Natalie copies of the tapes, but doesn’t believe she leaked them, since she didn’t hand over the most famous one — in which Gibson accuses Grigorieva of dressing provocatively, saying she looked like a “pig in heat” who would be at fault if she were gang-raped.
“She claims she has nothing to do with leaking those tapes, and she is as surprised and horrified as anyone that they are out there,” People’s executive editor, J.D. Heyman, told NBC.
Grigorieva also spoke to People about the roots of Gibson’s rage, believing that the actor is depressed, an untreated alcoholic and suicidal. “He would have killed himself many times if he wasn’t Catholic. He is afraid of hell,” she told the magazine.
Earlier this month, Grigorieva had her child support from Gibson raised from $5,000 to $20,000 a month, but tells the magazine she is “having a lot of trouble making ends meet,” Castro said. Still, “she vehemently denies she’s a gold digger,” he added.
Reports indicate Gibson initially made Grigorieva a $15 million offer at the time of their April 2010 split, an offer she turned down. For Grigorieva, the issue may be bigger — she wants to be able to share Lucia with Gibson on her terms and not have a 50-50 custody arrangement.
“I’m standing up to a bully who is very rich and famous,” she told People.
Attempts by TODAY to contact Mel Gibson for a response to Grigorieva’s allegations were unsuccessful.