The Shady Side Of Steven Seagal

Throughout the years, Steven Seagal has battled more scandals, accusations, and controversies than your average Joe. However, as per Deadline, the vast majority of the time, he's escaped any judgment day-style reckoning. It's pretty fair to assume Seagal has the infamous, high-powered Hollywood hot-shot attorney Marty Singer on speed dial. The legal pitbull is always ready to jump in and defend his client against all and any allegations of wrongdoing.

According to Celebrity Net Worth, Seagal has amassed a fortune of $16 million — which must come in handy when paying Singer's $950 per hour legal fees (via Vanity Fair). Over the years, Seagal appeared in a whopping 72 movies and shows (as per TV Guide). However, as his box office appeal faded, the martial arts specialist finally hung up his on-screen black belt.

Seagal relocated from America to Russia, where he was granted citizenship in 2016 after buddying up to Vladimir Putin. Nowadays, the action star chooses to focus on the spiritual instead of the Hollywood side of life. Seagal claims to be a devout Buddhist — a recognized reincarnated ancient Lama no less. However, as any good Buddhist knows, what goes around, comes around. Inevitably, you will always reap the fruits of your past actions. So, here's hoping the four-times married father of seven is hungry for a harvest because we're digging into the shady side of Steven Seagal — and it's quite fruitful.

The Vladimir Putin bromance

Steven Seagal and Vladimir Putin bonded over their love of martial arts. Their bromance flourished as they hung-out at sporting events, hobnobbed at "official state functions," wined and dined together, and worked side-by-side to develop a 20th-century version of the USSR "physical fitness program." (as per ABC News).

Seagal even became a fully-fledged Russian citizen in November 2016, following years of hard lobbying. According to the state-owned Sputnik News, "the actor had been applying for the citizenship for a while and was famous for his warm feelings toward Russia." Seagal was also awarded the honor of becoming the "special representative for Russian-U.S. humanitarian ties" two years later. (via Reuters).

According to Daily News, since his citizenship, Seagal has thrown his all into his adopted homeland. He became a member of the pro-Kremlin party, "A Just Russia — For Truth" (aka the Putin fan club) in 2021, per TASS. The action star is an outspoken supporter of Russia's stance on Crimea and Ukraine. And, he brings up Putin at every opportunity. In an interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta (via USA Today), Seagal praised Putin as being "one of the greatest living world leaders" and said he likes to think of him as "a brother." Sadly for Seagal, the bromance seems more than a little one sided. "I wouldn't necessarily say he's a huge fan," a Putin spokesperson told BuzzFeed News. "But he's definitely seen some of his movies."

He's been hit with quite a few sexual assault allegations

Sexual assault, harassment, and rape allegations have plagued Steven Seagal over the decades. Multiple women, including Jenny McCarthy, Portia de Rossi, and ​​Julianna Margulies, have made accusations. Margulies told Katie Couric about an alleged creepy "rehearsal" involving Seagal and a gun in a hotel room. De Rossi admitted fleeing an "audition" after Segal allegedly "unzipped his leather pants."

Jenny McCarthy told Movieline about an "Under Siege 2" supposed casting call that involved just Seagal and a shag carpet. She claims he was focused on her Playboy past, not acting skills. Seagal allegedly ordered McCarthy to undress because the movie involved nudity. A tearful McCarthy pointed out the script included zero nakedness. Seagal purportedly grabbed her, demanding, "Don't you ever tell anybody."

Rachel Grant accused Seagal of sexual assault (via Sky News), as did Kayden Nguyen in a lawsuit she filed (as per TMZ). Two ex-personal assistants accused Seagal of sexual harassment. Four former Warner Brothers employees accused Seagal of sexual harassment (via Spy magazine). Lisa Guerrero told Newsweek she'd allegedly been "Weinsteined" by Seagal — as did Rae Dawn Chong, per The Wrap. According to Daily News, Cheryl Shuman sued for sexual harassment and assault, and battery. Regina Simons alleged Seagal raped her when she was 18-years old, and Faviola Dadis accused him of sexual harassment (via The Wrap). Meanwhile, Seagal's high-powered and high-paid legal eagle, Marty Singer, vehemently denied every single accusation made against his client and refuted all claims of any wrongdoing.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Alpha male attacks and antics

Steven Seagal always likes to be the in-control alpha male in the room — and not just when he has the moves like Jagger-San on the aikido mat. Seagal's been accused of attacking and intimidating cast and crew on film sets (presumably minus his hachimaki and aikidōgi, though).

John Leguizamo told "Q TV" Seagal "Taekwondo'ed my a** against the brick wall" during the filming of "Executive Decision." Leguizamo says it all kicked off after he sniggered at a decree Seagal issued upon arriving at rehearsals one day. "He comes in [and says], 'I'm in command. What I say is law,'" Leguizamo explained. "Exit Wounds" stunt coordinator, Steven Quadros, alleges Seagal repeatedly attempted to "square up" to him when he tried to introduce himself. "He had that 'look' in his eyes as he squared up with me again," Quadros claimed to AD Combat (via SportsTwo), admitting the whole encounter was "very weird."

Getting weirder still, Sean Connery claimed that Seagal intentionally broke his wrist while working as a fight coordinator on the "Never Say Never Again" James Bond flick. "I got a little cocky because I thought I knew what I was doing. Because the principal [of aikido], it's defense," Connery explained during an interview on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno." He went on to admit, "then I got a bit flash, and I [held up my arm], and he broke my wrist."

Aikido mastery mystery

Steven Seagal has a slew of black belts — and not in the fashion sense. In addition to a 7th-degree in aikido, Seagal holds black belts in karate, kendo, and judo (as per Biography). However, aikido remains Seagal's first love. But, how he became a "deshi" and who his "doshu" was, appears often to be an urban myth. Multiple sites, including Vice, cite a random blog's claim that Seagal trained under aikido founder Morihei Ueshiba. The subject has even become a common thread on Quora and Reddit.

Despite allegedly having a reputation "all over Hollywood as a liar" (as per the Irish Examiner), it seems Seagal has never actually claimed to have been Ueshiba's pupil. But, he has alleged to have been in his presence on multiple occasions — which is highly questionable. As per People, Ueshiba died in April 1969, two years before Seagal moved to Japan at age 19 — when his father relocated the family there for a military posting.

"I have very little experience with 0-sensei. I was able to see him several times. I've seen him speak," Seagal told Aikiportal (via Aikiweb). "I became a priest in O'moto Kyo and went to all the aesthetic training with the priest that 0-sensei was raised with. I never really knew him. I never got to butt heads with him on the mat or was thrown around by him or anything else," he went on to admit.

SWAT tank raid puppy killing

Steven Seagal landed in hot water while filming his trainwrecktastic show "Steven Seagal: Lawman." The actor may have had good intentions when he conducted a raid on a suspected cockfighter's home. But, it was ludicrously heavy-handed, to say the least — as Seagal drove a tank into the house, accompanied by other armed vehicles, a bomb robot, and a heavily armed SWAT team.

"Steven Seagal does not take kindly to cruelty to animals and was more than happy to help his pal, Maricopa County Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio — himself an outspoken cruelty-to-animals foe — who was serving a search warrant for [Jesus Sanchez Llovera's] home," a PETA post reads. "Seagal and Sheriff Arpaio found 130 roosters and cockfighting paraphernalia. Animal control took custody of the animals, and Llovera, who was still on probation after being arrested at a cockfight, was charged with 115 counts of raising birds with the intent to fight them."

However, the animal rights activist group failed to mention that authorities allegedly killed over 100 animals during the incident. As per TMZ, the raid resulted in Seagal and Arpaio being issued with a notice of claim. In the claim — which precedes a lawsuit filing — Llovera insisted that the raid was "unfounded" because his roosters were raised "for show" purposes only. Llovera also alleged his kids' puppy was shot dead by officers, in addition to "more than 100 roosters" being exterminated.

Arms trade love and lobbying

Steven Seagal is a contradiction. On one hand, he's a devout Buddhist who likes to wax on, wax off about non-violence. On the other, he's a weapons and arms trade lover, promoter, and lobbyist. As per Talking Points Memo (via AV Club), Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin pushed hard for Seagal to become "the face of Russia's weapons industry." According to The Moscow Times, Russian firearms manufacturer ORSIS employed Seagal to promote and lobby in the USA on their behalf in 2013. He worked with them to design a "new rifle model ... called Orsis by Steven Seagal."

Seagal also promoted the warlord weapon of choice, the Kalashnikov — up until 2014. The Izvestia newspaper (via The Moscow Times) alleges Seagal was nixed from being a "brand ambassador" for the rifle makers because of the ever-escalating "tensions between the U.S. and Russia over Ukraine." Kalashnikov denied the claims in a statement. "The U.S. sanctions have in no way influenced our decision to cooperate with Steven Seagal," they insisted.

In addition, according to The National News, Seagal is "brand ambassador" for UAE-based armored vehicle manufacturers, The Streit Group. "I'm interested in weapons, military history, tanks, and armored cars, and I'd heard about Streit; I was very impressed," Seagal said in 2021. "[These] armored vehicles are probably the best in the world." Streit has been accused of selling vehicles to US gang members, as well as war-torn countries such as South Sudan and Libya (via CBC).

Is Steven Seagal a serial cheater?

Steven Seagal's marital history reads like a horror movie script. He met his first wife, Miyako Fujitani, at LAX in 1974, and it wasn't love at first sight — well, for Fujitani anyway. "When I met Steve, he had long hair, and he was very tall and skinny," she told Shoubudojo. "I hate that type — skinny with long hair. I was frightened: he looked like a Japanese ghost!" Still, the couple married and had two children. But the fairytale ended after Seagal returned to the US to further his career.

According to Spy Magazine, before Seagal left Japan, he vowed to Fujitani, "I will never betray you." So, it must have come as a shock when he married his second wife, Adrienne La Russa, in May 1984 — especially as he wasn't divorced from Fujitani until 1987. As per US Weekly, Seagal then cheated on La Russa with Kelly LeBrock, who he eventually married and had three kids with. They divorced in 1996 after she discovered Seagal had been having an affair with their nanny, Arissa Wolf.

Seagal and Wolf didn't marry, but they did have a child together, daughter Savannah (via Kiwkireport). Seagal waited until 2009 to brush off his groom's suit again. As per HollywoodMask, Seagal met Erdenetuya "Elle" Batsukh in 2001 while she was working as his interpreter in Mongolia — she became his assistant in addition to the fourth (and, so far, last) Mrs. Seagal. The two wed and welcomed their son, Kunzang, in 2009.

The sex trafficking accusation and lawsuit

A shocking and scandalous lawsuit really brought the shady side of Steven Seagal into focus. As per TMZ, Kayden Nguyen sued Seagal for sexual assault and "trafficking women for sex." The 23-year-old, who'd been hired as Seagal's personal assistant, claimed he used her "as his sex toy."

Nguyen alleged the harassment started as soon as she began working for Seagal. The lawsuit claims he "pushed his hands under her skirt, tried fondling her breasts, and forced his hand down her pants." Nguyen accused Seagal of sexually assaulting her multiple times and claimed he allegedly made her "consume illegal pills." The lawsuit also alleges Seagal engaged in "the illegal trafficking of females." According to the legal documents, two of the alleged women were young Russians who Nguyen claimed: "were available for [Seagal's] sexual needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week."

Seagal denied all the accusations in a statement (via ABC News). He said the lawsuit "is a ridiculous and absurd claim by a disgruntled ex-employee who was fired for using illegal narcotics." He went on to insist, "The claims in her lawsuit are a complete fabrication without a scintilla of truth." Seagal's attorney, Marty Singer, also chimed in, claiming, "Her lawsuit is nothing more than a preemptive strike by a disgruntled ex-employee." Nguyen dropped the lawsuit three months later. She provided no reason, but according to CBS News, Seagal's legal team had been working "to resolve the case through private arbitration."

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Navy SEAL and CIA black ops tall tales

During a 2003 mob-related extortion trial, the defense team's strategy was to paint Steven Seagal as "a pathological liar" (via Los Angeles Times). One possible tall tale is Seagal's claim of working with the Central Intelligence Agency while living in Japan. "[You] could say that I became an adviser to several CIA agents in the field and, through my friends in the CIA, met many powerful people and did special works and special favors," he told the Los Angeles Times.

Seagal alleged that he helped the Shah of Iran flee the country following the 1979 revolution. He also alleged to have carried out "security work" for President Anwar Sadat and Bishop Desmond Tutu. "I'd be very happy if nobody believes me," Seagal admitted. "I don't think you can find anyone in the agency who can prove they work for the agency." 

One person who doesn't believe Seagal is Gary Goldman. According to Spy Magazine, Seagal boasted to the former mercenary about having been a Navy SEAL. Goldman says he stopped believing Seagal's SEAL story when the actor freaked out after encountering choppy waters while on a Zodiac raft. Goldman also claims Seagal couldn't read a map or compass. The couple had been working on a screenplay together before fighting over money and writing credits. SPY alleges Goldman fired off a letter to the Los Angeles Times as retribution, branding Seagal's claims of working in the intelligence world as "a web of lies."

Yakuza 'fearless' fighter fibs

Steven Seagal alleges to have helped clean up the mean streets of Tokyo during his time living in Japan with his first wife, Miyako Fujitani, in the late 1970s. Seagal claims that he battled with the Yakuza, the notorious Japanese organized crime syndicate — in addition to a random assortment of other criminal low-lifes. "I jumped right in their faces," Seagal boasted to Movieline (via Spy magazine). "I was a tenacious mother****er, man. I was fearless."

However, Fujitani shot Seagal's claims down in flames. "It is a lie," she insisted in an interview with Spy. "He once chased some drunks away from the dojo but never was involved with the Yakuza." Coincidentally, Seagal plays a CIA operative who travels to Japan to investigate — and battle with — the Yakuza following the murder of a government official in the 2005 action flick "Into the Sun" (via IMDb).

According to the New York Post, former CIA officer Herbert Saunders claims Seagal has a questionable relationship with the truth. "I don't think he's able to sort out fantasy from fact," Saunders testified during the 2003 trial of Gambino mobsters charged with attempting to extort Seagal. "I think he sees himself in roles he's played in movies, ranging from hard-nosed, tough cop to guy who's saving mongooses in the woods of Oregon." Damian Lee backed up Saunders' allegations during his testimony. "[Seagal's] ability to be truthful is questionable, very much so," the Canadian filmmaker told the New York Post.

Female reporter rancor and retaliation

Steven Seagal has serious issues when it comes to female journalists. In 2017, the Daily Mail obtained audio from a 1998 "Above the Law" promo interview between Seagal and a male reporter. "The few times that I had a hard time [in interviews], it was usually with women," Seagal admitted. "They should go into pornography or something else instead of journalism if they want to hear that s**t. They're a bunch of a**holes," he said after claiming females always quiz him about his sex life.

"[She] was just some dumb c***t that is a liar and wanted to be sensational," Seagal branded one woman who wrote a disparaging piece about him. "If I ever see her again, I'll tell her to her face; I think she belongs in a zoo. Bunch of f***ing dirty w****s!" Anita Busch allegedly experienced Seagal's wrath while investigating him for the Los Angeles Times in 2002. According to an FBI affidavit (via The Washington Post), the veteran journalist "found a bullet hole in the windshield of her car. Nearby were a dead fish, a rose, and a note warning: 'Stop.'" 

A female freelancer wrote about a hellish meeting with Seagal for The Guardian. Cassie Lane claims he arrived with "eight buxom blonde[s]" and was "spellbound by the cleavage" all night. Then, as per the Independent, in 2018, Seagal stormed out of an interview with BBC reporter Kirsty Wark after she asked about the multiple sexual misconduct allegations made against him.

Cryptocurrency con pyramid promotion

Of all the shady Steven Seagal shenanigans, the SEC fine fiasco is right up there. Seagal found himself in legal hot water again — and on the wrong end of a hefty fine — in 2020. As per Gizmodo, Seagal endorsed and started promoting a dodgy cryptosystem called Bitcoiin2Gen in 2018.

Bitcoiin2Gen's now-deleted pitch paper (via Gizmodo) offered investors who'd missed "jumping on board" the Bitcoin train in 2009 a "second chance" to get rich quick — promising a 7,500% return within a year. CCN reports "the bizarre and almost comically shady project" was so blatantly shady they even used "a literal pyramid graphic" in their brochure to illustrate their "referral program." Not surprisingly, it didn't take long before Bitcoiin2Gen found itself on the Securities and Exchange Commission radar — along with Seagal — who, according to a B2G press release, was their "Zen Master" Brand Ambassador.

The SEC order states that Seagal "was promised $250,000 in cash and $750,000 worth of B2G tokens" in return for touting the bogus cryptosystem on his social media. They also determined he'd "[failed] to disclose" the financial motivation behind his promotion and endorsement. A later SEC press release announced Seagal refused to admit any wrongdoing but had agreed to fork out $157,000 "in disgorgement" and another $157,000 in penalty fees. In addition, the "Zen Master" was forbidden from touting any other "securities, digital or otherwise, for three years."

Ancient Lama reincarnation riddle

Steven Seagal claims to be a devout Buddhist — despite multiple allegations of sexual assault and misconduct, bragging about conducting CIA special ops, and a die-hard love of all things weapons-related. "I'm a Buddhist. I have a relationship with all sentient beings, and I try to do all that I can to protect them," Seagal told Forbes. "Even if it is only a small difference that I can make, I would sacrifice myself in a heartbeat for another."

Seagal was recognized as a reincarnation of the 17th-century Lama Terton Chungdrag Dorje In 1997. Tibetan leader Penor Rinpoche honored the actor in a ceremony at an Indian monastery. As per The Guardian, "in the Buddhist hierarchy, [Lama Seagal] is just a notch down from the Dalai Lama himself." But, how it went down is (characteristically for Seagal) a little murky. "I was in a monastery in Kyoto, and met some monks from Tibet who had been tortured by the Chinese," he claimed during a retreat (via GQ). "As I was the only one who had studied herbology, bone manipulation, and acupuncture, I treated them, and there was an immediate connection."

However, there's speculation Seagal's reincarnation recognition may stem from him having donated a boatload of money to one of Rinpoche's schools. "Recognizing a tulku, especially when it is an American person with lots of fame and fortune, is like buying a stock option," a Buddhist newsgroup member wrote (via E!).