Superstar rapper and music industry mogul Sean Combs was sued Thursday by the singer Cassie, who accused him of rape and physical abuse.
The hip-hop artist subjected the R&B singer, whose real name is Casandra Ventura, to more than a decade of coercion by physical force and drugs as well as a 2018 rape, she said in her suit, filed in federal court in Manhattan.
The suit says that Ventura met Combs, also known as both Puff Daddy or Diddy, in 2005, when she was 19 and he was 37.
He signed her to his label, Bad Boy Records, with her hits including tracks like "Me & U."
She also began a romantic relationship with him.
Court documents characterized it as "an ostentatious, fast-paced, and drug-fueled lifestyle" and called Combs "a vicious, cruel, and controlling man" who wielded power over Ventura, both as her boss and as one of hip-hop's leading figures.
In a statement to AFP, Combs's lawyer Ben Brafman "vehemently" denied the allegations, calling them "offensive and outrageous."
Combs accused Ventura of blackmail, saying her aim was to "tarnish" his reputation and gain a payout.
In response to that statement, Douglas Wigdor, an attorney on Ventura's legal team, said Combs had previously offered her money to prevent a filing, but that she "rejected his efforts and decided to give a voice to all women who suffer in silence. Ms. Ventura should be applauded for her bravery."
"No human should have to endure what Ms. Ventura has endured," Wigdor added.
Separately, Ventura, now 37, said in a statement that "after years in silence and darkness, I am finally ready to tell my story, and to speak up on behalf of myself and for the benefit of other women who face violence and abuse in their relationships."
- Adult Survivors Act -
Combs, 54, founded Bad Boy in 1993, and was a major figure in hip-hop's commercialization over the course of the decades that followed. His proteges included the late Notorious B.I.G. and Mary J. Blige.
He is among hip-hop's billionaires, not least due to his ventures in the liquor industry.
The suit describes him as a violent man, recounting disturbing scenes of his violent outbursts, including forcing Ventura to engage in sex acts with male sex workers, which she alleges Combs filmed.
Other allegations include that Combs forced Ventura to carry a firearm in her purse as a means of intimidating her and making her uncomfortable.
It also indicates that Combs blew up the car of another person who was romantically interested in Ventura.
Court documents detail that in 2018 Combs and Ventura had dinner, after which the magnate forced his way into her apartment and raped her.
The complaint says her association with Bad Boy ended in 2019.
Ventura is seeking damages including for "mental pain and anguish and severe emotional distress" as well as lost wages.
Ventura brought her case under the Adult Survivors Act, a New York law allowing alleged victims of sexual abuse to file civil suits past the statute of limitations.
Her legal team cites the law, which expires next week, in her filing, and Ventura noted its upcoming deadline in her statement.
"With the expiration of New York's Adult Survivors Act fast approaching, it became clear that this was an opportunity to speak up about the trauma I have experienced and that I will be recovering from for the rest of my life," she said.