Trials & Lawsuits

Why Did Victoria Principal Pull a Gun on Her Maid?

05/06/2009 at 03:55 PM EDT

Why Did Victoria Principal Pull a Gun on Her Maid?
Victoria Principal
Jason Merritt/Getty
This much is certain: After a housekeeper took former Dallas star Victoria Principal's dog out for a walk the day after Christmas, the two women got into a heated argument and Principal pulled a gun on her.

But the rest of the story is in dispute, with both sides accusing the other of assault and offering conflicting accounts of the clash. No charges have been filed, leaving the matter in civil court, with back-to-back lawsuits filed in the last week.

Principal, 59, best known for playing Pamela Barnes Ewing on the long-running TV drama who went on to launch a successful line of skin-care products called The Principal Secret, says in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Superior Court in Santa Monica, Calif., that the troubles began after she hired maid Maribel Banegas through an agency for temporary work.

Walking the Dog

On Dec. 26, Banegas allegedly came to work in a hostile mood because the actress sought to terminate her due to her "aggressive behavior toward other staff" and poor work performance prior to the dog incident, according to Principal's lawsuit.

When the maid took the dog out for a walk, she disappeared for an hour, although Principal repeatedly called Banegas to return the pet immediately. Principal accuses Banegas of dragging the pooch by its leash into her Malibu home "so roughly that the dog was coughing and wheezing and its eyes were bulging," according to the lawsuit, which says the dog suffered an injured back.

Banegas then allegedly "pounded violently on the kitchen counters while yelling ... 'Give me money ... Give me my money' " before Principal asked her several times to leave, the lawsuit says.

Maid Files Lawsuit

But Banegas, who filed a personal injury lawsuit against the actress on May 1, says she told Principal she was gone for an hour because she was waiting for the pet to do "its business." Banegas says Principal "threatened to kill her" after the housekeeper asked for payment for her services.

No shots were ever fired. Principal says she pulled the gun "out of concern for her safety" and because she "was in fear for [her] life." The maid then locked herself in a room, and Principal called 911. According to the actress, sheriff's deputies removed Banegas from her home "after subduing Banegas's attempts to resist arrest."

But L.A. Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore says Banegas "cooperated and agreed to leave the location after a payment dispute." On Jan. 9, Banegas contacted deputies, alleging she'd been assaulted by Principal and filed a report regarding the incident. After an investigation, the case was presented to prosecutors, who eventually rejected the case, citing insufficient evidence, says Whitmore.

A rep for the actress had no comment. Calls to Banegas's attorney weren't immediately returned.

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