Terrence Howard and his then-girlfriend, now ex-wife, Michelle Howard, in 2011
Michael Buckner/Getty Images 

The executives over at Fox are going to have to do something very soon about Terrence Howard’s character on Empire if allegations keep popping up that he beats women. 

It’ll only be so long before the streets start buzzing, and women-advocacy groups and black Twitter will say they’ve had enough and start calling for something to be done about Howard’s job. Or they may decide to boycott Empire altogether. These Internet streets live by one rule: Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Ask Bill Cosby. 

According to the Hollywood Reporter, in 2001 Howard was arrested on charges that he hit his wife at the time. On Tuesday his most recent ex-wife, Michelle Howard, filed a civil suit against the actor, claiming that he assaulted her. The allegations in Michelle Howard’s lawsuit are damning. 

She claims that the alleged assault took place while she and Terrence Howard were staying at a rental house in Costa Rica. She claimed that the actor punched her in the face, grabbed her by the neck and pushed her against a bathroom wall, choking her. 

She alleges that Terrence Howard insinuated that he would kill her if she tried to get away. Later on that evening, Michelle Howard claims, she had to pepper-spray him to shield herself from his punches. She eventually fell down, and Terrence Howard allegedly “mule-kicked” her in the head and shoulders. The suit describes the emotional distress she alleges that she endured.

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Michelle Howard is also suing for defamation, claiming that the Empire star spread false information about her to the public. 

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Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele is a staff writer at The Root and the founder and executive producer of Lectures to Beats, a Web series that features expert advice with scarily insightful people. Follow Lectures to Beats on Facebook and Twitter.