Veronique Lewis/Splash News Online
07/09/2007 at 08:00 AM EDT
Knowing that his public divorce won't disappear, illusionist Criss Angel is firing back at his estranged wife, calling her claims of mental abuse "blatant lies" and saying she's painted him as a "monster" for financial gain.
In a statement released Sunday, Angel said he's saddened that he even needs
to make a statement, but felt he needed to clear up what he called "inaccuracies, blatant lies and misrepresentations" that his estranged wife, Joann Sarantakos, has been saying in the press.
Sarantakos filed for divorce from the Mindfreak
star 14 months ago, and later accused Angel of mental cruelty and claimed that she was told to keep her 5-year marriage a secret. She also stated that Angel's relationship with Cameron Diaz
damaged the marriage and that she no longer gets financial support from Angel. (Diaz denied any involvement
in the breakup, saying the couple was already separated when they briefly dated.)
"When she filed her complaint over one year ago, and when she amended it twice, she made no mention of alleged adultery or lack of financial support," Angel said in a statement. "The fact that they decided to play both of those cards for the first time last week demonstrates their willingness to manufacture stories for their own purposes."
Angel also said he continues to financially support Sarantakos, despite her claims to the contrary. "The statement about lack of support by her and her family is both shocking and a prime example that they will stop at nothing to paint me in the press as some sort of monster in order to extort more money out of me.
"Her claim that she was my 'secret' wife is preposterous and inaccurate. Our marriage was well known to my friends and all of my fans worldwide."
Adding that his short relationship with Diaz is over, he said the
fact that Sarantakos and her lawyer brought the Shrek
star's name up "is a sign of their desperation."
"Cameron is a good friend and an amazing person and to defame her and myself and paint her as the reason for my marriage's demise is factually inaccurate, ridiculous and just plain wrong. It seems clear, and very unfortunate to me that Joann and her attorney both hope that these false statements will provide my estranged wife, who has also been dating during this time, the financial windfall she is obviously seeking."
Sarantakos's lawyer was not immediately available for comment on Angel's claims.
Sarantakos's aunt, Irma Winkhart, told PEOPLE that her niece always supported Angel and is upset by the split. "I think she just can't believe this is all happening, really. She just wanted to love him and support him, and now this. She's a pretty tough girl, though."