LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Lawyers for Mel Gibson and his estranged girlfriend squared off in court on Thursday in a bitter custody dispute over their baby daughter after a week of damaging, ranting phone calls leaked to an online web site.
The now infamous tapes, which appear to feature Gibson cursing and threatening former girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva, have been handed over to police investigating allegations of domestic abuse by the Oscar-winning movie star.
Los Angeles County Sheriff's spokesman told media that recordings were handed over during a closed-door session of the family court. A representative for Gibson has neither confirmed nor denied the tapes' existence or content, and on Thursday again declined to comment on the matter citing litigation between the two.
Grigorieva, 40, is said to be in family court seeking to wrest shared custody of her nine-month-old daughter away from Gibson. The Russian-born model and singer has accused Gibson, 54, of punching her in the face, knocking out her teeth during a furious argument in January.
The tapes, which some reports claim may have been altered, are seen as crucial evidence. Celebrity website RadarOnline on Thursday released a fifth recording available online, in which a panting Gibson again delivers a string of expletives at Grigorieva.
Lawyers for the pair declined comment on Thursday as dozens of reporters and camera crews staked out the Los Angeles courthouse. Neither Gibson nor Grigorieva were thought to be at the hearing.
Celebrity web site TMZ.com said on Thursday that Gibson's former wife of 28 years, Robyn, has made a sworn statement saying that Gibson never engaged in any physical abuse of any kind toward her or their seven children.
The "Lethal Weapon" and Braveheart" actor went public about his romance with Grigorieva last summer, shortly after filing for divorce from his wife. But Gibson and Grigorieva were reported in April to have split up, in what unnamed sources said at the time was an amicable parting.
Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte