Gabriel Aubry: Another Bad Apple for Halle Berry?

Custody fight over daughter Nahla gets ugly as Aubry hits back at Berry.

February 02, 2011, 1:35 AM

Feb. 2, 2011 — -- The woman scorned: It's a role with which Halle Berry is all too familiar.

On Monday, the Oscar-winning actress declared that she dropped out of her upcoming film, "New Year's Eve," to fight for custody of her 2½-year-old daughter, Nahla.

"Halle has serious concerns for her daughter's well-being while in the care of her father for any extended period of time and is prepared to take all necessary steps to protect her," a representative for the actress told People magazine. "She has attempted to resolve these custody issues amicably with her daughter's father, Gabriel Aubry, directly, but given his lack of cooperation, Halle has no choice but to seek swift judicial intervention."

According to People magazine, verbal abuse brought Berry to the brink.

"Once they broke up he became verbally threatening to Halle," Aubry's former friend and business partner Stephane Bibeau told People, saying that he's the type to speak first and think later. "He doesn't even realize the strength of his words. He is a vindictive guy." Bibeau also claimed that Aubry used a racial slur against Berry.

Aubry stepped up to defend himself on Tuesday. His representative released a statement to "Access Hollywood" stating that "Gabriel fully believes that a consistent and balanced living situation and two loving parents are crucial for their child even if Ms. Berry feels otherwise. ... Halle's continuing allegations in the press are untrue and irresponsible."

It's an out-of-the-blue, uncharacteristic move for the couple. Until now, it seemed that Berry, 44, was on good terms with Aubry, 34, a model whom she dated from 2005 to 2010. The two welcomed Nahla, Berry's first child, in 2008 and currently share custody.

In May, the couple split but vowed to "remain friends and committed parents to their daughter," Berry's publicist said at the time. Though they've both found new love since -- he briefly dated reality TV star Kim Kardashian, she's with French actor Oliver Martinez -- their switch from sunny to stormy terms comes as a surprise to many.

"This is really surprising because it seemed like they were really getting along," said Joey Bartolomeo, a senior writer for People magazine. "We saw them out together after they split up, spending time with Nahla. Everyone thought from the outside that he was good guy. She had come from a bad divorce. He was there to take care of her, they seemed to be really happy."

Perhaps, like Berry's past beaux, Aubrey failed to measure up to the man she wanted in her life.

"It seems like she has a history of picking the wrong men for herself," said Bartolomeo. "Her marriage to David Justice was very troubled. After that marriage broke up, she was damaged by the whole relationship. Then she married Eric Benet, and that seemed to be a great thing for her -- she was very happy, he had a daughter, they were raising that daughter together, then they split up and there was talk that he had been unfaithful."

Indeed, three years after marrying baseball star Justice, Berry attempted suicide.

"I was sitting in my car, and I knew the gas was coming, when I had an image of my mother finding me," she told Parade magazine in 2007. "She sacrificed so much for her children, and to end my life would be an incredibly selfish thing to do."

In the same interview, Berry called her relationship with singer Benet "really horrific." "We were in sex rehab after one year," she said. "I wish I had left then, but I was putting everyone's needs before mine." Berry also revealed that a boyfriend once hit her so hard she still suffers from hearing loss in her left ear.

Psychoanalyst Wendy Lee Walsh speculated that because Berry was raised by her mom and was estranged from her dad (her parents divorced when she was 4 years old), she might be searching in vain for a father figure, not just for Nala but also for herself.

"She's going to pick the men who provide the most challenge -- the men who can't love, the men who are emotionally absent," Walsh said. "These are the quote-unquote perfect mates for her kind of attachment style."

Martinez may serve as a source of comfort to Berry as her fight for Nahla heats up. But if she wants to win full custody, priority No. 1 can't be a boyfriend or a movie -- it's got to be all about the girl.

"I feel for Halle, but she hooked up with the guy, they produced the child, and he has rights," said Debri Opri, a California family law attorney. "Unless she proves that he's a danger to the health, safety and welfare of Nahla, nothing will take his rights away. She's got to show up and be the mom and put her actions where her words are."

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