Tom Cruise Won Lawsuit Against Male Adult Film Star Who Claimed They Had an Affair
A French magazine article led to the 2001 defamation suit.
In February 2001, Tom Cruise filed for divorce from Nicole Kidman citing "irreconcilable differences" after more than 10 years of marriage. As tabloids theorized about the root of the split, one celebrity gossip magazine published a shocking allegation attributed to an adult film actor best known for a series of erotic wrestling videos.
According to court documents, in an interview in the French gossip magazine Actustar, performer Chad Slater (stage name: Kyle Bradford) claimed he not only had an affair with Cruise that involved "a private encounter, specifically in a ring" in Paris, but that Cruise's high-profile Hollywood marriage had ended when Kidman discovered their liaison just days before the divorce filing.
Read on to learn what happened when Cruise took Slater to court over the story and why the Mission: Impossible star likely never collected on the resulting judgment.
Cruise sued Slater for $100 million.
The Actustar article was not the first time Cruise had faced rumors about his sexuality. In 1998, he and Kidman won a judgment after The Express claimed their marriage was "a hypocritical sham, entered into as a mere business arrangement, or on orders of the Church of Scientology, or as a cover-up for the homosexuality of one or both of them," according to Variety. (Former members of the controversial church to which Cruise belongs have alleged that Scientology is anti-gay and discriminates against LGBTQ+ followers; the church denies this.)
The 2001 so-called exposé likewise brought Cruise to court, as his legal team filed a defamation lawsuit against Slater that May. The suit contended, "There is not a germ of truth in this vicious, self-promoting story," and accused Slater of making up his claims to promote his own career during Cruise's highly publicized divorce.
The suit further stated that Cruise had "suffered and will suffer both personal and professional harm, including very substantial monetary damages," demanding minimum of $100 million in damages from Slater.
A tabloid publisher promised money to anyone who could "out" Cruise.
After Cruise filed the suit against Slater, Bold Magazine publisher Michael Davis circulated a press request for any proof that the actor was secretly gay, offering $500,000, according to a contemporary Salon article.
The magazine soon claimed that it had been contacted with an email "from a real person stating they had witnessed and have video proof that Tom Cruise is infact Gay [sic]." Cruise filed another $100 million defamation lawsuit, this time against Davis, according to Entertainment Weekly. The suit was dropped when the publisher admitted that he had lied about having evidence of Cruise engaging in affairs with other men.
Actustar retracted its story.
After Cruise took legal action against the adult performer, Actustar posted a statement claiming that Slater hadn't even actually spoken with the publication and that translations of the piece failed to note that their report was based on rumors.
"We already denied it in an article and we are everyday denying it on the phone with each journalist calling us about this," the statement read.
Slater, meanwhile, made multiple denials on his website, claiming that he had never made the claims attributed to him by the article, been to France, or spoken to Actustar. However, Cruise still pursued the defamation lawsuit against him.
Slater did not defend himself.
By that August, Cruise's case against Bradford was amended to include Slater's ex-wife, with claims that she sold the story to The National Enquirer, according to The Los Angeles Times. Later that month, Slater filed papers to default on the suit, meaning that he would not actively defend himself against it. He indicated that he was willing to file bankruptcy if it was pursued to protect his family from the pain of a trial and ensuing media circus, per E! Online. "I never met [Cruise] and never really wanted to," he said. "I just want put [sic] an end to it."
Slater added that the publicity had outed him as an adult performer, adding, "My family was hurt deeply. To turn on the TV and see that your son is an adult entertainer, which you didn't know, and secondly, your son is being sued by Tom Cruise for $100 million, that's a lot to take."
Cruise won a $10 million default judgment but was ordered to pay some legal fees.
Cruise ultimately won the suit when a judge entered a default judgment for $10 million in December 2002, according to The Los Angeles Times. "We requested $10 million recognizing that we don't know if this guy will satisfy any judgment, but it's important for Tom to be able to protect his reputation," Cruise's attorney Ricardo Cestero said in a statement.
Another of Cruise's attorneys, Bert Fields, was quoted in Entertainment Weekly saying he hoped the case "deters people from saying false things about Tom." He continued, "Tom feels strongly that he doesn't want his kids or his grandkids, for that matter, to read about the fact that he did things he never did so whenever anybody says false things about Tom he's going to go after them. He has the will and the means to do it."
As for Slater, his adult film career seems to have ended with the suit. "Please note that I am selling my domain name and the exclusive rights to my own videos as well," an archived version of his website read in June 2001. "This means that Kyle Bradford will no longer be a part of my life nor my identity."
According to The Advocate, Cruise was ordered to pay more than $27,000 in attorney's fees to Slater's ex-wife in a decision that Cruise appealed before dropping the case.
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