The National Voices for Equality, Education and Enlightenment is a South Florida-based antibullying organization. It's holding a "VIP Reception and Recognition Ceremony" tonight at the Hard Rock with a "special appearance" by Creed frontman Scott Stapp and a "lifetime service award" being given to Liza Minnelli.
Neither is a stranger to bullying, though, and according to their significant others, both Stapp and Minnelli were the perpetrators.
David Gest, Minnelli's fourth husband, sued her for $10 million before their eventual divorce in 2007, saying he'd required days of hospitalization and received nerve damage in drunken beatings from Minnelli, according to the Washington Post. The case was eventually thrown out, but Gest didn't take the option to appeal after a confidential settlement.
NVEEE founder Jowharah Sanders said that Minnelli was selected by the kids in the organization's programs and that "the kids sort of recommended Liza" after learning about her in a mentoring program.
"We thought about it as the adults," she said, and decided Minnelli was "a great choice."
"She didn't do anything with the organization in particular," Sanders said, adding that she wasn't aware of the allegations against Minnelli.
When asked about how the organization justifies a "special appearance" by someone whom the event's host accused of throwing glass bottles, a spokeswoman responded, "Hold on one second; I'm going to have to..." and got off the line. She came back and said, "I'm not at liberty to talk about it" but said someone who could comment would be calling back.
Sanders, however, wasn't afraid to comment:
"Scott Stapp is not our spokesperson. Scott Stapp happens to be the husband of our spokesperson," she said -- though Stapp is noted on the event announcement, the invitation, and in a news release.
"We work with kids who are bullies. We don't just work with people who have a shining image," she added. "We're not in any way ashamed of working with the people we're choosing to work with... Do we know about his past? Yes."
She also said that while Minnelli hadn't done anything for the organization, "the Stapps absolutely have," with Jaclyn Stapp working closely with the mentoring programs and going into schools with the organization for antibullying programs.
"She's made herself 100 percent available to us," Sanders said.
Michelle Soudry, Scott Stapp's publicist, did call back and said the couple is "better than ever."
"Those charges were dropped. They've been happily married for over five years now," Soudry said. "They have a very healthy relationship... Five years in a celebrity marriage is a blessing."
If you want to ask Stapp about it yourself, the event starts at 7:30 in Bongos Cuban Cafe in the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino; tickets cost $20 at the door.
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