LOS ANGELES — Terrence Howard agreed to a 2012 divorce settlement with his ex-wife because he was afraid she would leak embarrassing details about his sex life, his attorney said during opening statements at a hearing involving the actor’s efforts to overturn the agreement.

The Oscar-nominated actor and star of the hit television series “Empire” is expected to testify during the proceeding, which may take two days.

Howard’s attorney, Brian Kramer, said he would play an audio recording of ex-wife Michelle Ghent making the threat, and would present other evidence that would show she engaged in “heavy-handed acts of extortion and blackmail.”

Ghent’s lawyers say she denied the allegations during a deposition.

Howard and Ghent were married in 2010 and she filed for divorce a year later. Ghent has accused Howard of domestic violence and is also seeking money she says is owed under their divorce settlement.

Judge Thomas Trent Lewis ruled Tuesday that Ghent’s testimony will be limited because she did not file certain pleadings before the hearing.

The judge also said Howard could only present evidence of duress and extortion attempts that happened outside of the pair’s mediation in 2012.

The settlement gave Ghent several bank accounts and left Howard with responsibility for several debts, including tax liens. It also called for him to pay Ghent a share of his earnings in spousal support.

– From news service reports