Britney Spears likened her court-ordered conservatorship to “sex trafficking” during a probate hearing where she spoke out on the matter publicly for the very first time late Wednesday afternoon.
The pop icon relayed a story of being forced to perform against her will during a 2018 tour where she felt pressured to sign an agreement “out of fear.” Rehearsals for that tour, where Spears led over a dozen dancers, took a turn for the worse one day when the singer refused a management request over part of the routine.
“I’m not here to be anyone’s slave,” Spears said, addressing the court. “I can say no to a dance move.”
In testimony, the singer suggested she was put on a regime of lithium–a high-powered psychiatric drug–as retribution over her eventual decision to cancel a highly-publicized comeback show in Las Vegas.
“He put me on that and I felt drunk,” Spears said–describing the effects of the mood-altering drug. “I really couldn’t even take up for myself. I couldn’t even have a conversation with my mom or dad.”
That regimen went on for a month, she said, during which she said “six different nurses” oversaw the administration of lithium and effectively kept her as a prisoner in he own home during that time period.
“Not only did my family not do a goddamn thing, my dad was all for it,” Spears continued–directly assailing her father James “Jamie” Spears for the first of several times during the status hearing.
Jamie Spears long served as his daughter’s full conservator–originally at her request but in recent years against her will. Late last year, while failing to have his status revoked entirely, Britney won a victory on the financial front by having financial firm Bessemer Trust appointed co-conservator and corporate fiduciary. Her father maintains control over Britney’s personal care along with care manager Jodi Montgomery.
“Anything that happened to me had to be approved by dad,” Spears continued. “He acted like he didn’t know.”
Following a days-long psychological evaluation which the singer said she was told she had failed, her father relayed the terms of a mandatory treatment program that Spears would be forced to shell out some $60,000 per month for–again, against her will.
“I cried on the phone for an hour and he loved every minute of it,” Spears said, referring to her father. “The control he had over someone as powerful as me–as he loved the control–to hurt his own daughter. One hundred thousand percent. He loved it.”
Spears then recounted her time in that high-priced facility:
I packed my bags and went to that place. I worked seven days a week. No days off–which in California the only similar thing to this is called ‘sex trafficking.’ Making anyone work against their will. Taking all their possessions away–credit card, cash, phone, passport–and placing them in a home where they work with the peopler who live with them. They all lived in the house with me: the nurses; the 24-7 security; there was one chef that came there and cooked for me daily–during the weekdays. They watched me change every day naked. Morning noon and night. My body. I had no privacy to work from my room. I gave eight vials of blood per week…
“Ma’am, I will tell you, sitting in a chair 10 hours a day, seven days a week, it ain’t fun,” Spears continued–directly addressing her comments to Superior Court of Los Angeles County Judge Brenda Penny. “And especially when you can’t walk out the front door.”
“And that’s why I’m telling you this again two years later,” the internationally beloved singer went on. “After I’ve lied and told the whole world I’m okay and I’m happy? It’s a lie. I thought just maybe if I said that enough I might become happy because I’ve been in denial. I’ve been in shock. I am traumatized. You know, ‘fake it ’till you make it’? But now I’m telling you the truth, okay? I’m not happy. I can’t sleep. I’m so angry it’s insane and I’m depressed. I cry every day.”
Spears laid into California’s conservatorship system and the court for spending her money to hire people who “keep [her] dad on board.”
“My dad and anyone involved in this conservatorship–and my management who played a huge in punishing me when I said ‘no’–ma’am, they should be in jail,” Spears added.
Increasingly angry and halting at times, the singer said that she’s been under her father’s purview for some “fucking 13 years.”
“Trying to be so good and pretty,” Spears continued–documenting the course of her career. “So perfect–when he works me so hard. When I do everything I’m told and the State of California allowed my ignorant father to take his own daughter–who only has a role with me if I work with him–they set back the whole course and allowed them to do that to me? That’s giving the people I’ve worked for way too much control.”
The singer noted that she has taken so long to speak publicly about the terms of her conservatorship because she previously felt the court ignored her concerns and made her feel like she “was dead.”
“I don’t think I owe anyone to be evaluated,” Spears said–rejecting a further court-ordered psychological evaluation out of hand. “I’ve done more than enough. I don’t owe these people anything.”
Spears said that her father and others have frequently threatened her, that she was kept unaware of her power to petition for the end of her father’s control over her body and finances, and that she was too embarrassed to share how she was treated out of fear of being ridiculed and having the veracity of her experience questioned.
“I’m not lying,” she said. “I just want my life back. And it’s been 13 years and it’s enough.”
“It’s been a long time since I’ve owned my money and it’s my wish and my dream for all of this to end–without being tested,” Spears reiterated. “Again, it makes no sense whatsoever for the State of California to sit back and literally watch me with their own two eyes make a living for so many people and pay so many people, trucks and buses on tour–on the road with me–and be told I’m not good enough. But I’m great at what I do. And I allow these people to control what I do, ma’am, and it’s enough. It makes no sense at all.”
The globally famous master of her craft said that her dream was to have her boyfriend be able to pick her up in his car, that she would like to sue her family after everything is said and done, that she should be able to share her story with the press, and that she would like to have another child–all options which are apparently foreclosed against under the current system of control.
“I have an IUD in my body right now that won’t let me have a baby and my conservators won’t let me go to the doctor to take it out,” Spears alleged.
After some 20-plus minutes of testimony, the judge addressed Samuel D. Ingham III, a court-appointed attorney appearing for Britney Spears and noted that there are ways to get a conservatorship ended. Ingham quickly said that he wouldn’t comment on the matter because of attorney-client privilege but added that he would file a motion to end the conservatorship if his client directed him to do so–but that she hasn’t done so yet.
Vivien Leigh Thoreen, an attorney appearing for Jamie Spears, asked for and received a recess so that she could dissect and then address Spears’s lengthy testimony in court.
“He is sorry to see his daughter suffering and in such pain,” Thoreen said after the break–reading from prepared remarks. “Mr. Spears loves his daughter and he misses her very much.”
“Since she has made the remarks that she was able to make on the public record today, she believes it will be advisable for proceedings to be sealed going forward,” Ingham added after Penny asked for final comments.
The public portion of the status hearing ended with Judge Penny leaving the next steps up in the air so that attorneys could schedule a date that works best for the numerous parties involved in the ongoing battle over Britney Spears’s money, work and personal care decisions.
“The people who did this to me should not get away and be able to walk away so easily,” Spears said at one point in the proceedings.
[image via via VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images]
Editor’s note: this story has been amended post-publication for clarity and accuracy.
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]