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Ryan Phillippe: 'I'm Not a Perfect Person'

11/08/2006 at 08:00 AM EST

Ryan Phillippe: 'I'm Not a Perfect Person'
Ryan Phillippe
Michael Loccisano/FilmMagic
Ryan Phillippe has been mum about his split from wife Reese Witherspoon since their divorce was announced on Oct. 30 – until now.

In an exclusive statement to PEOPLE, Phillippe says, "I'm not a perfect person, but I'm not guilty of a lot of the things I have been accused of. My priority is and always has been the health and safety of my family."

Phillippe, 32, and Witherspoon, 30, have a daughter Ava, 7, and son Deacon, 3.

Phillippe will not comment on reports that a relationship with Abbie Cornish – the Australian actress who costars with him in an upcoming film – played a role in the demise of his seven-year marriage to Witherspoon. But his reps vehemently deny other recent allegations of hard partying and drug use.

It's no secret that Phillippe has always enjoyed hitting the clubs with friends. He and Witherspoon "would fight over that kind of thing all the time. He got away with a lot and he knows it," according to a source at a Santa Monica bar that Phillippe used to frequent.

His rep, however, denies it: "Look, he went out, she went out, it wasn't a point of conflict."

Others who know them say Phillippe often stayed at his Venice office after arguments with Witherspoon, sometimes "for days a time," says the source. "He said she hated that."

Whatever happens next, says a Phillippe pal, "I know they love their kids to death. So they'll do what they can to keep it from turning ugly."

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