In an emotional, angry, sometimes profane speech in court, singer Britney Spears demanded Wednesday that the 13-year conservatorship she has been living under be ended, saying she is forced to endure oppressive conditions comparable to slavery and sex-trafficking.
Spears told the judge overseeing her conservatorship she can’t sleep and cries every day, saying social media posts directed at her fans claiming she is happy are “a lie.” The singer also said she wants to sue her family, accusing her “ignorant” father of relishing the abusive treatment inflicted upon his own daughter.
Spears, 39, said she wants the conservatorship to end without forcing her to undergo any more mental evaluations. She also said she wants to “get married and have a baby.”
“This conservatorship is doing me way more harm than good,” she said. “I deserve to have a life.”
Speaking to Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny via telephone, Spears unleashed a blistering criticism at those controlling her career, medical and psychological treatment, at one point saying she was forced to attend a live-in rehab treatment in Beverly Hills, for which she was ordered to pay $60,000 a month. She said she cried on the phone for an hour to her father — the co-conservator of her estate — “and he loved every minute of it. The control he had over someone as powerful as me, as he loved the control, to hurt his daughter 100,000 percent he loved it.”
“I worked seven days a week, no days off, which in California the only similar thing to this is called sex trafficking,” she said, adding that all of her money, credit cards, telephone and passport were taken from her. She also said nurses were in the home with her around the clock, watching her change clothes.
“After I’ve lied and told the whole world I’m OK and I’m happy. It’s a lie,” she said, saying she thought if she said it enough she would believe it herself.
“I’ve been in shock. I am traumatized,” she said. “… I’m not happy. I can’t sleep. I’m so angry it’s insane, and I’m depressed.”
At one point, she said her father, managers and anyone involved in the conservatorship “should be in jail.”
She also referred to pop star Miley Cyrus, saying she faces no consequences for smoking pot on stage on television.
“Nothing is ever done to this generation for doing wrong things, but my precious body, who has worked for my dad for the past (expletive) 13 years, trying to be so good and pretty, so perfect when he worked me so hard, when I do everything I’m told and the state of California allowed my ignorant father to take his own daughter … they allowed him to do that to me? That’s giving these people I worked for way too much control.”
She said what she has been through is “embarrassing and demoralizing,” saying she has continued working — lining the pockets of her father and others involved in the conservatorship.
She concluded by saying she wants to petition to end the conservatorship, saying she didn’t realize earlier that she had the right to do so. She said she would agree to in-home therapy once or twice a week, as long as it was done at her own home so she would not be forced to travel to a facility in front of the paparazzi.
One of her attorneys, Samuel Ingham III, told the judge after Spears finished that the singer had never asked him to file such a petition. Her attorneys later said they would consult with the singer about her desire to file such a petition, and to potentially establish a plan for continuing therapy.
The hearing came amid the backdrop of a vocal, fan-orchestrated “#FreeBritney” movement pushing for an end to the conservatorship that has been in place since 2008, following a series of bizarre behavioral breakdowns, including one in which she shaved her head.
Her supporters have questioned the need for the conservatorship, which is usually used for people who are sick, elderly or unable to otherwise manage their own affairs. Spears has produced a series of hit albums and repeatedly toured and performed in Las Vegas over the past 13 years.
Spears’ father, Jamie Spears, and the Bessemer Trust Co. are the co-conservators of the singer’s estate, and they share management of her business affairs. Jamie Spears’ involvement in the conservatorship has been a lingering and growing point of contention, with Ingham repeatedly saying his client would be happier without her father involved.
Britney Spears and her father have had a roller-coaster relationship over the years, but attorneys for Jamie Spears have insisted that he has always done his best to look out for his daughter’s well-being.
Following Spears’ remarks in court Wednesday, Vivian Lee Thoreen, an attorney for Jamie Spears, requested a brief recess to consult with the singer’s father. When court reconvened, she read a brief statement from Jamie Spears, saying, “He is sorry to see his daughter suffering and in so much pain. Mr. Spears loves his daughter and misses her very much.”
Spears has long argued against her father’s involvement in the conservatorship. She hasn’t performed live since 2018, and her attorneys have said she won’t do so again while her father remains in control of her affairs, and profiting from her work.
On Tuesday, The New York Times — citing a review of confidential court records in the case — reported that Spears has been pushing for an end to the conservatorship as far back as 2014. A court investigator reported in 2016 that Spears believed the conservatorship had “become an oppressive and controlling tool against her” and maintained “too much control” over her life, to the point of rejecting her wish to re-stain the cabinets in her kitchen.
Recent action in the case has focused mainly on the roles of Jamie Spears and the Bessemer Trust in the conservatorship over her estate.
According to The New York Times report, Spears’ attorney, Ingham, told the court in 2014 that the singer feared all of her concerns about her father’s control over her life were being swept under the rug.
Spears repeated that assertion Wednesday, telling Penny she felt that her last speech to the court in 2019 went completely unheeded, leaving her felling “dead.”
Last year, Ingham asked that Jamie Spears be suspended from his role as co-conservator. Judge Penny refused, but indicated she might reconsider in the future.
Hours before Wednesday’s court hearing, some fans of Spears began gathering outside the downtown courthouse, even though the singer was not expected to be there in person.
Spears herself has never directly responded to the movement, although fans have taken to closely analyzing her social media posts, looking for any signs she may be trying to communicate with her fans or convey signs of personal distress through subtle clues, such as the color or type of clothes she wears.
In an Instagram post last week, Spears answered some questions from fans, with one asking if she is ready to start performing again.
“I have no idea,” Spears said on the video clip. “I’m having fun right now. I’m in transition in my life and I’m enjoying myself.”
She wrote in a social media post this week that she and Asghari had taken a trip to Maui.
“I had a couple of embarrassing moments of living each day like it was my last!!! If you haven’t done that, I strongly suggest you do!!!,” she wrote.
On Instagram Wednesday morning, Spears’ boyfriend, Sam Asghari, posted a photo of himself wearing a white T-shirt with “Free Britney” written on front.