Police probe claims Gibson abused ex-girlfriend

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Law enforcement officials on Thursday said they are looking into claims that Oscar-winning director and actor Mel Gibson physically abused his former girlfriend and the mother of one of his children.

Cast member Mel Gibson (R) and Oksana Grigorieva attend the premiere of the film "Edge of Darkness" in Los Angeles January 26, 2010. REUTERS/Phil McCarten

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s office released a statement saying it was “gathering information regarding the allegations” and would disclose no other details because the probe was preliminary.

A spokesman for “The Passion of the Christ” and “Braveheart” star was not immediately available to comment.

The sheriff’s statement said the alleged violence occurred in January at Gibson’s home in Malibu, California, and it named his ex-girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva, as the alleged victim.

Gibson, 54, and the 40-year-old Russian singer have been embroiled in a bitter legal battle in recent months over the custody of their infant daughter, Lucia.

They have obtained restraining orders against each other.

Gibson is a major Hollywood star who found fame as an action hero in the “Mad Max” movies. He boosted his stardom in the “Lethal Weapon” cop flicks, among others, and won Oscars for directing and producing “Braveheart.”

His religious film “The Passion of the Christ,” which he directed and made outside Hollywood’s major studios, was a major box office hit.

But the actor ran into trouble in 2006 when he was arrested for drunk driving in Malibu, California, where he lives, and then launched into an anti-Semitic tirade against the arresting officer. He was quoted as telling the official that “Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.”

Gibson subsequently apologized publicly for what he called “despicable behavior” and sought counseling. He was sentenced to three years probation and ordered to attend an alcohol recovery program.

Editing by Paul Simao