Mel B's Friends 'So Happy She Left' Estranged Husband Stephen Belafonte, Source Says: 'Thank God She Got Away'
By Antoinette Bueno
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A source close to Mel B tells ET that members of her inner circle are happy that the America's Got Talent judge has split from her estranged husband, Stephen Belafonte.
Mel B, whose real name is Melanie Brown, was granted a temporary restraining order against Belafonte on Monday, after she accused him of beating and threatening her throughout their nearly 10-year marriage in court papers obtained by ET. ET has reached out to both Brown and Belafonte for comment, though neither has responded as of press time.
"Thank God she got away," the source says. "Mel's friends are shocked that it took her this long to finally leave him, but are so relieved that it happened. Everyone is so proud that she finally had the courage to leave him."
"Mel never told friends just how bad the abuse was but everyone knew how scared of him she really was," the source claims.
Our source alleges that 41-year-old Belafonte "controlled Mel's life."
"Stephen required live updates of where Mel was, who she was hanging out with, any work matters she had going on," the source claims. "He had his assistant keep track of Mel anytime she was out of town away from him."
The source also claims Belafonte controlled Brown's finances. In Brown's court filing, she alleges Belafonte took "millions of dollars" from her during their marriage and invested it in "whatever entity or project that interested him."
"Mel has made a lot of money along her career and I wouldn't be surprised if she didn’t know how much she really has left," the source claims. "Any deal that Mel had made with brands had to be done through Stephen. He invested their money in many different entities – real estate, companies, products. He also would comment on how much money she spent."
In the court papers filed on Monday, Brown accuses Belafonte of both physical and emotional abuse, which she claims started shortly after they married in 1997. Brown also claims Belafonte got their younger nanny, Lorraine Gilles, pregnant -- and that he told her he wanted to have the baby and "all three of us live together" -- before ultimately demanding the nanny get an abortion.
On Wednesday, a source close to the estranged couple as well as Gilles denied the allegation.
"None of it's true. It's all lies," the source claims. "I know he didn't [get her pregnant.] It's fake."
"I've always found him to be a very nice guy," the source also says of Belafonte. "Whenever they were together he was a loving, doting guy, so this is all kind of crazy."
Brown, 41, filed for divorce from Belafonte in March. The two have one daughter together, 5-year-old Madison, and Brown has two other children from previous relationships -- daughters Angel and Phoenix.
In the court documents, Brown claims she attempted to leave Belafonte multiple times, but that he threatened to release sex tapes to ruin her career. "These threats were made so as to allow [Belafonte] to gain and keep control over me and my finances," she claims.
On Monday, a judge ordered Belafonte to move out of their family home in Hollywood Hills, California, immediately, and to stay 100 yards away from Brown and her three children until the next hearing on April 24. Brown was also granted legal and physical custody of Madison, and Belafonte was not granted visitation. He was also restricted from releasing any photos, videos or any other information regarding Brown.