Published September 28, 2006
You may not know the name Pauley Perrette right away, but if you watch CBS primetime, you know her face. She’s the attractive, spunky actress who plays Abby Scuito on “NCIS,” starring Mark Harmon.
Abby is known for her high level of intelligence and playful energy, but in real life, the actress who plays her has been going through hell.
The reason is her ex-husband, 41-year-old Canadian Francis “Coyote” Shivers, a sometime musician and part-time club disc jockey who Perrette claims has been harassing her for the last two-and-a-half years, after almost four years of marriage.
Shivers — who according to court documents has many aliases, including Paul Edwards and Frank Keber — didn’t start his reign of terror with Perrette. His second-most recent ex-wife, Bebe Buell, who lives in Maine, has been inundated with a mountain of false police reports, invented complaints and restraining orders for years — all of which came after she told Shivers to leave and try to find work in Los Angeles in 1998.
“Instead, he found Pauley,” Buell says. “His next meal ticket.”
According to both women, Shivers stalked them and inflicted upon each of them endless mental distress. They each claim he terrorized them sexually during their respective relationships. When they compared notes, Buell and Perrette found that their situations, in fact, were eerily the same.
The women say Shivers, who denies everything, has been clever in his manipulation of the court system, too.
“He uses Family Court as his arena to harass women," Perrette alleges. "There’s no link between Family Court and Criminal Court. So he can commit perjury. He can put illegally gotten e-mails and false declarations into the court record. There’s no penalty for it.”
In 1999, once he was established in California, Shivers got a restraining order against Buell, even though she was 3,000 miles away and hadn’t seen him in a year.
Buell opted not to fight it, since she wasn’t going west, and eventually it expired. But she says her total costs in battling Shivers’ legal haranguing have now spiraled into the high five figures.
Perrette didn’t want her story to become public — “I didn’t want to be attached to him in the press,” she says — but once another alleged victim of Shivers came forward, she felt she had no choice.
In July, one of Shivers’ former girlfriends, Angela Garber, filed a complaint against him in Los Angeles Superior Court for assault, battery, sexual battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
But Garber waited two years to see an attorney after the alleged incidents, which is why the Los Angeles Police Department never took the case, I’m told.
“He threatened her if she ever talked to anyone,” Perrette said. Eventually, Garber contacted Buell, who put her in touch with Perrette.
Garber’s charges, which are on public record, are frightening if proved to be correct. They include several episodes of rape and sodomy, not to mention descriptions of Shivers locking her in car trunks or just plain hitting her.
At least one of these episodes occurred in Perrette’s house, only hours after she left. Shivers, in his court-filed response, denies all these charges. He claims that all these women are in collusion against him and even claims that they stalked him.
Full disclosure: I knew Shivers slightly in the mid-1990s when he was married to Buell and living in New York, although I haven’t seen him in at least eight years. Then around 32 years old, he fancied himself a rock star, although his only means of support was the occasional gig at tiny rock clubs in the East Village. His income was almost wholly derived from his marriage to Buell, who was then managing the career of her daughter, actress Liv Tyler.
When I heard four months ago that Shivers was making Perrette's life miserable, I went to visit her at her recently regained Hollywood home. According to Perrette, when she filed a restraining order against Shivers during their divorce, the judge in the case gave her two options:
“I could either have a restraining order or live there with him. Because of my fear of him, I left. I grabbed my two dogs, my cat and my laptop and I ran.”
For almost two years, Perrette has fought Shivers in court for the old rambling house she’d bought with her relatively small TV salary (she’s fifth-listed in billing on "NCIS"). When she finally took it back — after paying Shivers to leave a house he never owned or had title to, she says — Perrette says the place had been vandalized. There was writing and drawing on the walls and damage to pretty much every room.
“Rat and mice feces were all over the floor,” she says.
At a friend’s apartment where she was staying just down the hill, Perrette told me of her nightmare trying to get away from Shivers.
She detailed an unending series of harassments, including Shivers’ penchant for hacking into her computer — something she and Buell realized they had in common — and leaving thousands of notes on small pieces of yellow paper.
While we were talking, Perrette turned over a standing ashtray, and a yellow missive fell out.
“I thought I got the last of them,” she said, “but they are everywhere.”
She said the notes almost always carried threats written in the third person, like “Do not betray him.”
Shivers would leave confetti cut into heart shapes, she said, copied from a tattoo they’d both gotten long ago (and she has since had removed).
Perrette points out that the vandalism seems to be tied to the physical abuse. In Garber’s complaint, she alleges that Shivers branded the letter “C” into her back while she was tied to a chair. Perrette found the same branding all over her house.
Over the last two years, Perrette, Buell and several of Shivers’ other accusers have bonded. It's ironic, since it was Perrette’s signature on a complaint that secured a restraining order against Buell a few years ago.
Perrette claims that she knew nothing about it, and that her name was forged.
“I told Bebe she’s a really crappy stalker,” Perrette says with a rueful laugh. “She should try something else. In eight years I’ve never met her! She’s obviously not good at it!”
Perrette herself got a restraining order against Shivers in late 2004, which has been renewed several times. Nevertheless, she says, “Every bit of vandalism in my house is a violation of the restraining order. The restraining order states, among other things, no harassment, no leaving notes, etc. He destroyed my house, [and] that is as harassing as it gets.”
The next renewal hearing comes in November.
“My whole goal was to be able to work in television and film and maintain a normal life, never be in a tabloid. I was clean as snow. And now there’s this guy. And I find myself in the middle of a horror movie I didn’t audition for.”
Efforts to reach Shivers’ most recent attorney of record, Barbara J. Youngman, were frustrated by the lack of a phone listing anywhere, even in legal directories.
The inability to nail Shivers down and see him prosecuted for anything so far has been his accusers' biggest frustration.Perrette says many visits to the police have yielded no help.
“I’ve filed several police reports for violation of restraining order. He’s shown up at events he wasn’t invited to, and claimed I was stalking him. I reported the vandalism. I’ve been working with the Threat Management Unit, which is supposed to work on stalking cases.”
There have been no results so far. Why?
“That’s the question,” she says. “No one knows. Two different police officers and one lawyer told me I should have stayed and let him break my arms.”
Perrette recently turned to famed Los Angeles private investigator John Nazarian for help.
“I saw that he worked with the unit. You know, I love cops and I wanted to work well with them. His logo is 'Make Your Problem My Problem.' I feel like he’s working on this 24 hours a day so I can do my job. And I love my job.”
Nazarian says that after dealing with many celebrity stalkers, Shivers — who, we must add, denies it all — may be the worst. Perrette agrees.
“I’m the only thing standing between him and his next victim,” she says. “The three of us,” she adds, “fear for our lives 24 hours a day. We’re always looking over both shoulders.”