Avenatti, a self-proclaimed advocate of women’s rights, was booked on a felony domestic violence charge. Though details of the alleged incident have yet to be released, authorities told BuzzFeed News it had occurred at a residence on Santa Monica Boulevard near Beverly Hills. The celebrity gossip website TMZ initially identified the alleged victim as Lisa Storie-Avenatti, his estranged wife, but her attorneys issued a denial.
"Ms. Storie-Avenatti was not subject to any such incident on Tuesday night. Further, she was not at Mr. Avenatti’s apartment on the date that this alleged incident occurred," they said in a statement to BuzzFeed News. "My client states that there has never been domestic violence in her relationship with Michael."
Avenatti was released on $50,000 bail a few hours after his arrest. Shortly after his release, he denied the claims. "I have never struck a woman. I never will strike a woman. I have been an advocate for women’s rights my entire career, and I’m going to continue to be an advocate," he said at a news conference after being released from jail. "I am not going to be intimidated from stopping what I am doing. I am a father to two beautiful, smart daughters. I would never disrespect them by touching a woman inappropriately or striking a woman. I am looking forward to a full investigation, at which point I am confident that I will be fully exonerated."
On Twitter, where he has amassed nearly 900,000 followers since catapulting to the public eye, he wrote: "Thank you to everyone who has reached out with supportive messages and offers of assistance. It means the world to me. I have always been an advocate of women's rights and equality & I always will be. I will not be intimidated into stopping my pursuit of justice and what is right."
The domestic violence allegations are not the first set of murky issues Avenatti has faced. His firm's finances came under scrutiny after it was forced into a temporary form of bankruptcy. In October, Avenatti was forced by a California court to pay $4.85 million to a former colleague. The Daily Beast also reported that the lawyer and his firm has owed millions in unpaid federal taxes as well as state taxes in California and Washington.
His court appearance is set for December 5.