'Housewives' Tragedy Follows Abuse Claims, Lawsuit

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The apparent suicide of Taylor Armstrong's estranged husband occurred in the midst of a divorce filing, allegations of physical and mental abuse and a $1.5 million lawsuit claiming the couple diverted money from investors to promote a lavish lifestyle.

Court records show that last month, a breach of contract lawsuit was filed against Russell Armstrong and Taylor by a company that alleged the couple pocketed more than $1 million from investors. The court complaint states that Russell represented himself to be a successful venture capitalist who claimed to have procured $2 billion for various entities.

But Russell's legal troubles go all the way back to 1998, when he received a conviction for battery in a domestic abuse case involving his then wife, Barbara Armstrong, with whom he had a son. Barbara was granted a protective order against Russell and as part of his sentence he was required to attend a one-year anger management program, as well as weekly Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

Just last month, Taylor filed for divorce from Russell, who had not yet responded to her petition. In a recent interview with People magazine, the reality star alleged that she was verbally and physically abused during the couple's nearly six-year marriage. She said the couple often had explosive arguments in which Russell would curse and call her names and it would sometimes escalate from there.

At times, Taylor said Russell resorted to physical violence, including grabbing her, throwing objects, shoving her and pulling her hair. "I felt like I was dying inside," Taylor told the magazine. "Now, there's some sense of peace," she said at the time.

Russell, 47, acknowledged problems in the relationship and was quoted by People as saying: "Did I push her? Yes, maybe things happened in the heat of the moment, but it was during a time in our lives that was not characteristic of who we were. This show has literally pushed us to the limit."