Most of the time, celebs create their own scandals, like when they cheat on their spouses or bribe their kids' way into college.
Sometimes, however, famous people — especially women — take the fall for something that's not really their fault.
Here are 14 famous women who were blamed for "scandals" when they were really the victim:
1.In 1999, Melissa Joan Hart posed for Maxim in her underwear. Unbeknownst to her, the magazine used the headline, 'Sabrina, your favorite witch without a stitch,' which got her sued and fired from Sabrina the Teenage Witch because "in [her] Archie Comics contract, it said [she] would never play the character naked."
On Pod Meets World, she said, "So here they were thinking I'm in breach because I'm playing the character. No, that was supposed to be me promoting my movie, it wasn't supposed to be a character. I had no control over what they wrote on the cover."
However, Melissa "had no control over what they wrote on the cover" and had "never heard of someone being on the cover of a magazine and not using their name." The people who planned to file a lawsuit against her "had no ground to stand on," and she was able to continue starring in her sitcom.
"So I wrote an apology letter and it was all gone," she said.
2.In June 2023, Cardi B's husband Offset made an Instagram story post publicly accusing her of cheating on him.
In response, she went live on Twitter Spaces and sang part of Keyshia Cole's "I Should Have Cheated." Specifically, she sang the lines, "First of all let me say / You can't accuse me of all the things / You know that you are guilty of / And I see that it is easy for you to blame everything on me."
Then, she said, "Don't pay attention to that country man, y'all...Come on, now. I'm fuckin' Cardi B...I can't fuck me no regular degular shmegular because they gon' tell the world. I can't fuck nobody in the industry 'cause they gonna tell too."
The following August, Offset told Way Up with Angela Yee that his cheating claims had been a lie he posted during a drunken argument with Cardi.
Explaining why he didn't initially say it was a lie after deleting the post, he said, "The delete is enough because at the end of the day, them people don't be really knowing what's going on with us. That's my wife. I love her to death...We crazy for each other."
Reflecting on the times he cheated on Cardi in the past, he said, "When I did do that, I was in a different space. I was young, I had just got married, I'm getting a lot of money...I was on lean. I was making bad decisions, not really realizing it's affecting my family."
3.In 2005, 17-year-old Rihanna was subjected to rumors that her music mentor Jay-Z was cheating on Beyoncé with her. The speculation grew so intense that it reportedly caused the couple to briefly break up.
Fans theorized Beyoncé's songs "Resentment" and "Ring The Alarm" were about Rihanna until Beyoncé's father/manager released a statement clarifying that they weren't.
A decade later, publicist Jonathan Hay admitted to making up the cheating rumor to promote Rihanna's first single, "Pon De Replay."
He told Inside Edition, "I was desperate at the time because I wanted to have a hit record...[I was] young and stupid."
4.In 2007, 18-year-old Vanessa Hudgens's nude photos were leaked and spread without her consent. Taking the brunt of the backlash herself, she released an apology statement, which said, "I want to apologize to my fans, whose support and trust means the world to me. I am embarrassed over this situation and regret having ever taken these photos. I am thankful for the support of my family and friends."
Disney Channel also released their own statement, which said, "Vanessa has apologized for what was obviously a lapse in judgment. We hope she's learned a valuable lesson."
Reflecting on the situation in 2020, she told Cosmopolitan UK, "It was a really traumatizing thing for me. It's really fucked up that people feel like they are entitled enough to share something that personal with the world. As an actor, you completely lose all grip of your own privacy, and it's really sad. It feels like that shouldn't be the case, but unfortunately, if enough people are interested, they're going to do everything they can to get to know as much about you as they can, which is flattering, I guess, but then people take it too far and end up divulging things that should be personal."
She continued, "I think that is because there's a disconnect when you see your favorite actress on the screen, and you see them now on your TV in your homes, and you can watch them whenever you want. There's almost — I don't want to say lack of respect because that sounds negative — but it just makes you feel like you know them even though you don't."
5.In 2008, 15-year-old Miley Cyrus was subjected to heavy criticism over a Vanity Fair photoshoot where she posed backless with a sheet. She released an apology statement, saying, "I took part in a photo shoot that was supposed to be 'artistic' and now, seeing the photographs and reading the story, I feel so embarrassed. I never intended for any of this to happen, and I apologize to my fans, who I care so deeply about."
In a statement, a Disney spokesperson said, "Unfortunately, as the article suggests, a situation was created to deliberately manipulate a 15-year-old in order to sell magazines."
Beth Kseniak, who represented both the magazine and the photographer, Annie Leibovitz, told the New York Times, "Miley's parents and/or minders were on the set all day. Since the photo was taken digitally, they saw it on the shoot, and everyone thought it was a beautiful and natural portrait of Miley."
However, a decade later, Miley tweeted a picture of a tabloid sensationalizing her apology. She captioned it, "I'M NOT SORRY. Fuck YOU."
6.When Bella Thorne was 14, she wore a bikini to the beach. A fan took her picture, which went viral, and she was allegedly almost fired from her Disney Channel show Shake It Up over it.
On High Low with EmRata, she said, "It was all over the media, it was literally viral in that time. It was, 'How dare this little girl do this? This is so disgusting.'...[They were] blaming me and putting Disney under pressure to fire me. "
She said that, while Disney ultimately didn't fire her, they did give her a warning, saying, "Hey, we're getting a lot of heat for this. Everyone's getting heat for this because you're in a bikini on the beach, so she needs to make sure that she goes out in boy's shorts and a loose T-shirt next time she's at the beach."
7.In 2020, Megan Thee Stallion was shot in the foot by Tory Lanez after a party. In the years between her report and the trial, she was constantly victim-blamed and accused of lying by online trolls and fellow musicians. Men like Da Baby and 50 Cent openly mocked her, and Drake and 21 Savage called her a liar in their song "Circo Loco."
Megan continued to bravely share her story, but she struggled with the cruel comments others made online.
She told Rolling Stone, "I get online, I see funny shit all day. But then in the mix of that, there is also 20 people at-ing me at one time, saying crazy stuff. I'm like, 'My 15 minutes [online] is over. Get off.' I see people saying, 'Damn, I would've shot that bitch too.' In some kind of way, I became the villain. And I don't know if people don't take it seriously because I seem strong."
In December 2022, Tory was found guilty, and in August 2023, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Megan told Elle, "I don’t want to call myself a victim. As I reflect on the past three years, I view myself as a survivor, because I have truly survived the unimaginable."
She continued, "Not only did I survive being shot by someone I trusted and considered a close friend, but I overcame the public humiliation of having my name and reputation dragged through the mud by that individual for the entire world to see. For years, my attacker laughed and joked about my trauma. For years, my attacker peddled false narratives about what happened on the night of July 12, 2020. For years, my attacker tried to leverage social media to take away my power. Imagine how it feels to be called a liar every day. Especially from a person who was once part of your inner circle...It never crossed my mind that people wouldn't believe me. Still, I knew the truth and the indisputable facts would prevail. I had worked way too hard to reach this point in my career to let taunts deter me. When the guilty verdict came on Dec. 23, 2022, it was more than just vindication for me, it was a victory for every woman who has ever been shamed, dismissed, and blamed for a violent crime committed against them."
After the verdict, 50 Cent apologized for his previous comments about her.
8.In 2016, Kim Kardashian was tied up and robbed of more than $10 million worth of jewelry at gunpoint in her hotel in Paris. On social media, some people blamed Kim for "flaunting" her expensive things on Snapchat. MediaTakeOut.com even accused her of faking the robbery.
On My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman, Kim said that she was afraid of being assaulted and murdered. She also couldn't stop thinking of her sister Kourtney having to come back to the room and find her.
She said, "I kept on looking at the concierge [who was also tied up], because I didn't know who he was. I'm like, what is happening? Are we going to die? Just tell him I have children, I have babies, I have a husband, I have a family, I have to get home. Tell them take anything — I'll never say I saw them, take everything."
Later in 2016, MediaTakeDown.com made a formal apology to Kim and released a retraction.
In 2021, 12 people were charged in connection with the robbery.
In 2022, one of the robbers, Yunis Abbas, also blamed it on her, telling Vice that she should've been a "little less showy" towards "people who can’t afford [the same things]."
He said, "I saw one of her shows where she threw her diamond in the pool, in that episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians. I thought, 'She's got a lot of money. This lady doesn't care at all.' ...Since she was throwing money away, I was there to collect it, and that was that. Guilty? No, I don't care. I don't care. Of course she must have been traumatized. I don't doubt it."
Online, many fans came to Kim's defense. She seemingly shared her thoughts on the interview by liking a tweet that said, "Imagine gaslighting a woman into believing the trauma she received was her own fault. shame on you @VICENews for even giving them the publicity and air time."
9.In 2019, all hell broke loose on social media over rumors that Tristan Thompson had cheated on Khloé Kardashian with her sister Kylie Jenner's best friend, Jordyn Woods, at a house party. Jordyn got way more heat from the Kardashian-Jenners and on social media than Tristan did.
In her Red Table Talk interview, Jordyn denied rumors that she'd slept with Tristan or given him a lap dance at the party. However, she confirmed that "on the way out, he did kiss [her]." She also said that she didn't tell Khloé about the kiss because she was "trying to protect her heart" and didn't want to "throw more fuel on the fire" of her and Tristan's turbulent relationship.
The scandal also impacted Jordyn's family. She said, "We can't leave the house. My brother can't go to work. My sister can't go to school, and she's 12 years old. My mother can't go to the grocery store."
On Twitter, Khloé accused Jordyn of lying, writing, "If you're going to try and save yourself by going public, INSTEAD OF CALLING ME PRIVATELY TO APOLOGIZE FIRST, at least be HONEST about your story. BTW, You ARE the reason my family broke up!"
However, Khloé soon backtracked on the vitriol she'd thrown Jordyn's way, tweeting, "Jordyn is not to be blamed for the breakup of my family. This was Tristan’s fault."
Months later, Khloé expressed that she was ready to forgive and forget. She told On Air with Ryan Seacrest, "I know everybody makes mistakes. I think it's how you handle it, and I think apologies need to be as loud as your disrespect, or to me it's not sincere. I'm forgiving. I'm forgiven. I'm not someone who holds a grudge. If I do that it's only going to affect me. That chapter is closed for me. I want all of us to move on and to be happy, successful people. I just want everyone to be better people with each day. That's genuinely how I feel. That's really it."
Then, when a new episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians showed Khloé getting drunk on tequila and raging against Jordyn and Tristan, she tweeted, "This was such a horrible time in my life, but time really does heal and help people move on. Thank you for that! That saying 'that nothing lasts forever.' Not the good, sadly, but happily, not the bad. The good will always come back."
Similarly, when the episodes surrounding the scandal aired, Jordyn told Entertainment Tonight, "Everyone has their truth and their story, and so you just go with it. Everyone has the right to speak their truth...Life moves on. Money doesn't stop, [the] world doesn't stop, and hopefully everyone is just going forward."
10.In 2016, Taylor Swift's team denied Kanye West's claims that he "called Taylor and had an hour-long convo with her about the line ['I made that bitch famous' in his song 'Famous'] and she thought it was funny and gave her blessings." After accusing Taylor of "playing the victim," Kanye's then-wife, Kim Kardashian, uploaded a Snapchat video of the phone call where Taylor appeared to give her permission for him to namedrop her in the song.
In a since-deleted Instagram statement, Taylor said, "Where is the video of Kanye telling me he was going to call me 'that bitch' in his song? It doesn't exist because it never happened. You don't get to control someone's emotional response to being called 'that bitch' in front of the entire world. While I wanted to be supportive of Kanye on the phone call, you cannot approve a song you've never heard. Being falsely painted as a liar when I was never given the full story or played any part of the song is character assassination."
Regardless, Kim and her fans bullied Taylor online by calling her a "snake" and spamming her comments with the snake emoji.
Then, to make matters worse, Kanye used a nude mannequin to represent Taylor in his "Famous" music video.
The entire situation damaged Taylor's reputation. She essentially went into hiding. In her Miss Americana documentary, she said, "Nobody physically saw me for a year."
She returned to the public eye in late 2017 with her album Reputation, which used snake imagery and included several songs that seemed to allude to her feud with Kanye and Kim.
However, four years later, the full version of the phone call video leaked, proving that Kim had edited it and that Taylor had been telling the truth all along — she never consented to being called "that bitch."
On her Instagram story, Taylor wrote, "Instead of answering those who are asking how I feel about the video footage that was leaked, proving that I was telling the truth the whole time about *that call* (you know, the one that was illegally recorded, that somebody edited and manipulated in order to frame me and put me, my family, and fans through hell for 4 years)... SWIPE UP to see what really matters." She then linked to the World Health Organization and Feeding America, encouraging fans to join her in donating.
11.When Janet Jackson performed at the 2004 Super Bowl Halftime Show, Justin Timberlake ripped part of her costume, leaving her breast exposed. The fallout from the "wardrobe malfunction" — deemed "Nipplegate" — severely impacted Janet's career while Justin's remained largely unscathed.
Both Justin and Janet released apology statements, but most of the blame fell on her, with even an MTV executive reportedly claiming she "engineered it."
In February 2004, Janet's planned Grammys appearance was canceled, while Justin attended the ceremony and took home two awards. In March, she released Damita Jo, which became her lowest-selling album since 1984. Industry sabotage and boycotts likely were likely driving forces behind her music and film careers.
As the years went by, journalists continued to press Janet about the incident in many interviews, and she continued to apologize.
When Justin was announced as the 2017 Super Bowl Halftime headliner, people called out the fact that he had yet to apologize to Janet. In 2021, he finally did. The following year, Janet released a self-titled documentary in which she said, "It was an accident that should not have happened, but everyone is looking for someone to blame, and that's got to stop."
She continued, "Justin and I are very good friends, and we will always be very good friends. We spoke just a few days ago. He and I have moved on, and it’s time for everyone else to do the same. We talked once and [Justin] said, 'I don't know if I should come out and make a statement.' And I said, 'Listen, I don't want any drama for you. They're aiming all of this at me.' So I said, 'If I were you, I wouldn't say anything.'"
12.In 2009, Jessica Simpson was widely body-shamed in the press over photos of her performing in Texas. For the six months that followed, she disappeared from the public eye.
At the time, headlines poked fun at her weight and accused her of "letting herself go."
In 2020, she told Today, "This picture that circulated and went worldwide broke my heart. Well, not the picture necessarily, but the caption. Like, all the captions...I was taken down by the world."
In 2020, she told Glamour, "I was globally beaten down for being a size 4! I felt good up there, I felt confident, and then it ruined the stage for me, and the stage was my home. It broke my home. I'd already had broken moments within a home where I had to walk out of a marriage, but my stage has been like my home since I was, like, a child. That's where I could be honestly alone with myself."
She continued, "I'm so happy that times are changing now and more women are accepted for who they are. People are flaunting themselves at every size, because that's how it absolutely should be."
13.In 1983, Vanessa Williams became the first Black woman to be crowned Miss America. However, a few short weeks before her reign was scheduled to end, Penthouse magazine published nude pictures of Vanessa without her permission. She was forced to resign.
Reflecting in 2021, she told Page Six, "I think I was really centered in knowing I know who I am and I'll get there, and once the dust settles, you'll see. And also distancing [myself] from the two opposite symbols of Miss America and a scandalized beauty queen and me being a normal kid in the middle who was a junior in college."
In 2015, Vanessa returned to Miss America as a pageant judge. After she sang onstage, the executive chairperson, Sam Haskell, joined her and surprised her with a public apology on behalf of the organization.
He said, "I want to apologize for anything that was said or done that made you feel any less the Miss America you are and the Miss America you always will be."
Vanessa said the moment was "so unexpected but so beautiful."
14.And finally, in 2014, Jennifer Lawrence was among more than 100 celebrities whose private nude pictures were leaked by hackers. The situation was dubbed "Celebgate" as the images spread. At the time, Jennifer considered writing an apology statement, and "every single thing that [she] tried to write made [her] cry or get angry."
A few months later, she told Vanity Fair, "I started to write an apology, but I don't have anything to say I'm sorry for...It is not a scandal. It is a sex crime. It is a sexual violation. It's disgusting. The law needs to be changed, and we need to change. That's why these websites are responsible. Just the fact that somebody can be sexually exploited and violated, and the first thought that crosses somebody's mind is to make a profit from it."
She also said, "Just because I'm a public figure, just because I'm an actress, does not mean that I asked for this. It does not mean that it comes with the territory. It's my body, and it should be my choice, and the fact that it is not my choice is absolutely disgusting. I can't believe that we even live in that kind of world."
In 2018, one of the hackers was sentenced to eight months in prison for stealing and sharing the private pictures. The other three had already been sentenced to 9–18 months each.