In an in-depth interview published Wednesday, the actress claimed that Benn, who is a professional magician, was a “manipulative and maniacal fraudster” who allegedly “defrauded her of millions.”
She also claimed that he “violently inflicted emotional distress” on her via “a campaign of isolation, terror and assault, and destroyed her reputation by doing so,” according to The Daily Beast.
The Daily Beast reports that Benn said in an affidavit filed in January that the accusations were “completely false and outrageously interposed as a tactic to cloud the fact that, on the merits, [Neal] has no entitlement to the relief she seeks.”
Neal, 43, played Assistant District Attorney Casey Novak on SVU from 2001-2012, though she left the NBC procedural from 2008-2011. She has since appeared in Suits, Power, NCIS, The Following and Blue Bloods.
A court document obtained by PEOPLE confirms that Neal filed a lawsuit against Benn in April 2018 at the Ulster County Courthouse in New York.
According to Neal, the former couple met at a star-student event in 2013. After just two months of dating, Benn moved in with Neal at her New Jersey house with her three small dogs.
“It was romantic,” Neal recalled to the Daily Beast. “It was a different kind of romance. It wasn’t like hot-fire passion. But it was sweet and it was simple.”
Neal’s lawsuit reportedly states that Benn refused to put her on the title for a home they purchased together in upstate New York. She alleges that he impersonated her in emails and text messages to her friends and entertainment contacts.
Reps for Neal and Benn did not respond to PEOPLE’s requests for comment.
Along with claims of abuse and threats, Neal is also accusing Benn of slitting her poodle’s throat and saying that her cat caused the injury. The complaint also says that Benn allegedly “bragged” that he “bashed the cat’s brains in.”
The lawsuit also reportedly claims that Benn once recorded himself sexually assaulting Neal as she was sleeping days after she broke up with him in March 2018.
He also said that Neal “will say whatever she believes is necessary to gain sympathy and to support her ongoing vendetta against me,” according to the report.
“The only thing that [Neal’s] papers prove is that she is so beholden to her anger over our failed relationship that she will swear to anything, without regard to the truth, to paint me in a false light and to try get [sic] from this court what she wants…,” Benn allegedly said.
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On April 1, Benn was allegedly arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor stalking the month prior, the report claims.
A criminal complaint, filed by New York State Police in Ulster County, claims that Benn attempted to “initiate unwanted contact with Diane Neal via email on 3/15/19 and 3/23/19 causing harm to the mental and emotional health of Diane Neal.”
The magician allegedly drove past her residence seven times in 15 minutes while Neal was in her driveway. He also allegedly showed up at the Ulster County District Attorney’s Office while she was there, “causing Neal to fear for her life,” according do the report.
On Wednesday, Benn allegedly pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and was fined $200 in fees. Neal was given a two-year order of protection from him, according to the report.
“I’ve always said it’s life imitating art,” Neal’s friend, music executive Eddie Applebaum, told the Daily Beast of the exes’ relationship. “It’s a Law & Order: SVU story that’s playing out in real life.”
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, please contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or go to online.rainn.org.