Britney Spears called 911 to report conservatorship abuse the night before court testimony
New details of Britney Spears' life under her conservatorship were revealed in a blistering New Yorker story by Ronan Farrow and Jia Tolentino published Saturday morning. The story details the pop star's alleged mistreatment by her father and conservator Jamie Spears, who has controlled his daughter's finances and, effectively, her life since 2008.
According to the report, Spears called 911 the night before her court testimony last month, "to report herself as a victim of conservatorship abuse." In her statement the next day, Spears publicly spoke about the conservatorship for the first time, telling the judge, "Ma'am, my dad, and anyone involved in this conservatorship, and my management, who played a huge role in punishing me when I said no — Ma'am, they should be in jail."
In court, Spears publicly stated her desire to end the conservatorship for the first time. But according to the New Yorker story, "From the earliest days of the conservatorship, Spears appeared to chafe against her constraints," with a lawyer stating at a February 2008 court hearing "that Spears had a 'strong desire' that Jamie not be a conservator." According to Jacqueline Butcher, a former friend of the Spears family, the conservatorship was granted without Spears' consent, and "without ever talking to her."
"The whole process was maybe ten minutes," Butcher says he recalls. "No one testified. No questions were asked." Butcher also recalls witnessing Jamie mistreating his daughter shortly after the arrangement began: "He would get all in her face — spittle was flying — telling her she was a whore and a terrible mother." He allegedly limited Spears' contact with those she was close to, and would "do terrible things, like withhold access to her kids," according to Butcher.
According to the article, a representative for Jamie Spears "declined to answer specific questions but characterized his behavior as that of a loving father saving his daughter from possible ruin."
"I got mixed feelings about everything," Spears' mother Lynne, who divorced Jamie in 2002, told The New Yorker. "I don't know what to think.... It's a lot of pain, a lot of worry."
The story also reports that Spears' social media accounts are under supervision, though her management denies having the strict control that many fans have suspected. According to her management, Spears "typically writes the posts and submits them to CrowdSurf, a company employed to handle her social media, which then uploads them. In rare cases, posts that raise legal questions have been deemed too sensitive to upload," Farrow and Tolentino write, adding, "A member of her team claimed that, aside from 'about one per cent' of her posts — those which might incur liability — Spears has 'pretty much total control' of her social media."
Spears' conservatorship has received renewed scrutiny since the New York Times Presents documentary Framing Britney Spears was released in February, with many celebrities coming forward to support her. Spears is currently engaged in a court battle over the conservatorship, and has pushed to remove her father from his powerful position within it for years, as the Times reported last week.
You can read Farrow and Tolentino's full story at The New Yorker.