Sean Combs, the hip-hop mogul known as “Diddy,” has been sued for sexual assault by his former longtime partner Cassie, who accused him of repeatedly raping and physically abusing her for nearly a decade.
In a lawsuit filed in New York federal court on Thursday, Cassie, whose real name is Casandra Ventura and was once under Diddy’s label, claims that she was “trapped by Mr. Combs in a cycle of abuse, violence and sex trafficking,” citing multiple incidents in which he allegedly “punched, beat, kicked and stomped” her. Diddy’s Bad Boy Records and Sony’s Epic Records were also named in the complaint.
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The suit is the latest in a series of legal actions filed against prominent men in the music industry, including ex-Grammys CEO Neil Portnow and former Epic Records chief Antonio “L.A.” Reid, under the New York Adult Survivors Act, which revived the window to bring sexual misconduct claims for one year regardless of the statute of limitations.
In a statement, Benjamin Brafman, a lawyer for Combs, denied the allegations and said his client is being extorted. “For the past 6 months, Mr. Combs, has been subjected to Ms. Ventura’s persistent demand of $30 million, under the threat of writing a damaging book about their relationship, which was unequivocally rejected as blatant blackmail,” he said. “Despite withdrawing her initial threat, Ms. Ventura has now resorted to filing a lawsuit riddled with baseless and outrageous lies, aiming to tarnish Mr. Combs’ reputation and seeking a pay day.”
In response, Douglas Wigdor, a lawyer for Cassie, said in a statement, “Mr. Comb’s offered Ms. Ventura eight figures to silence her and prevent the filing of this lawsuit. She rejected his efforts and decided to give a voice to all woman who suffer in silence.”
The complaint details a tilted power dynamic between Cassie, who met Combs in 2005 when she was 19 years old and he was 37, and the renowned producer.
“From the very start of their relationship, Mr. Combs exerted his power and influence over Ms. Ventura,” states the complaint. “This dynamic was fueled by their nearly twenty-year age difference as well as their relative positions in the entertainment industry — with Mr. Combs considered a music ‘mogul’ and Ms. Ventura at the very start of her career as an entertainer.”
Over the course of the next decade, the suit claims, Combs would often violently beat her, after which he’d allegedly use “his money and power to orchestrate extensive efforts to hide the evidence of his abuse,” including by hiding her in hotels for days at a time to let her injuries heal.
The suit alleges, “In one such instance, after a party with Jay-Z, Mr. Combs beat Ms. Ventura repeatedly in an Escalade, including by kicking and hitting her.”
Cassie also alleges sex trafficking in the form of Combs demanding her to perform sexual acts with other men. “Sometimes, Mr. Combs would pay to fly male sex workers to his location, including to multiple cities in the United States as well as abroad,” Wigdor writes in the complaint. “He required Ms. Ventura and his staff to help him make these arrangements.”
When she tried to leave, the lawsuit alleges that Combs used his “vast network of corporations and affiliated entities” to find her and lure her back. According to the complaint, one altercation in 2011 involved him lunging at her with a corkscrew and subsequently hitting her several times after Combs’ “network of enforcers” followed her to the home of Kid Cudi, who housed her when she was trying to flee. Another incident involved Bad Boy management allegedly telling her that her single would not be released if she did not answer Combs’ phone calls. The suit says an executive at Sony Music “reached out to her with a similar ultimatum concerning her record.”
Cassie says she left the relationship in 2018 after she was raped by Combs. She says she continues to suffer “immense emotional distress,” including from addictions to drugs and alcohol allegedly caused by Combs.
The complaint alleges sex trafficking, sexual battery, sexual harassment and gender discrimination, among several other claims.
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