The woman who had an affair with Eric Benet while he was married to HALLE BERRY claims the R+B singer was petrified of the actress - and became her "lapdog".

Singer JULIA RILEY claims her affair with Benet in 2002 - as Berry prepared for the ACADEMY AWARDS - was the reason the Hollywood superstar filed for divorce earlier this year (04).

And 35-year-old Riley believes Benet's fear of Berry ultimately their marriage.

She tells America's NATIONAL ENQUIRER, "He told me about one evening when he was recording some music at the house in Los Angeles, and he took a break to chill out by watching TV alone.

"But Halle and Eric's daughter India were in the living room and Halle demanded that he spend time with her and his daughter.

"When Eric said he wanted to watch TV alone to cool off, he told me Halle went ballistic shouting at him. Eric would always in the end do what Halle wanted. He was like a lapdog and he confessed he hated it.

"Eric said Halle was very moody and selfish - and always wanted him to cater to her. He admitted he was afraid of Halle. She was rich and powerful and could hurt his career if he didn't fall in line."

When a scared Benet told his wife about his sexual encounter with Riley, he was packed off to THE MEADOWS rehabilitation clinic to undergo treatment for sex addiction.

Riley notes, "He isn't a sex addict. He has a commitment issue."

And Riley claims there was another recurring problem in the couple's marriage - Benet wanted children, while Berry didn't.

Riley tells the publication, "Eric complained Halle wouldn't go off the birth-control pill. I told Eric to hide her birth control pills or throw them away. But he didn't do that."

06/08/2004 09:29