The rap star and record label founder Sean “Diddy” Combs is vehemently pushing back against allegations from his ex-girlfriend, the R&B singer Cassie, that he subjected her to serial physical abuse, sexual slavery and rape.
Casandra Ventura, known as Cassie, filed a lawsuit on Thursday accusing Combs of using his powerful network to keep the model and actor trapped in a violent relationship with him.
She alleges that over the course of their 10-year relationship, Combs assaulted her multiple times – viciously beating and raping her – and controlled every aspect of her life, the New York Times first reported. She faced “a cycle of abuse, violence, and sex trafficking” until their relationship ended in 2018, according to the lawsuit.
The high-profile New York lawyer Benjamin Brafman, representing Combs, 54, has in turn accused Cassie of trying to blackmail his client.
In a statement issued late on Thursday, Brafman said his client “vehemently denies these offensive and outrageous allegations”. Brafman said Ventura resorted to filing a lawsuit “riddled with baseless and outrageous lies” after a failed attempt to blackmail Combs into paying her $30m by threatening to write a damaging book about their relationship.
Combs, more widely known by his stage names Puff Daddy, P Diddy or Diddy, is the founder of the landmark label Bad Boy Records and a leading producer and executive in hip-hop as well as being a hugely successful performer. He is also the creator of his own Sean John clothing line.
Meanwhile, a lawyer for Ventura told the New York Times that she was offered “eight figures to silence her and prevent the filing of this lawsuit”, which she rejected.
The shocking lawsuit paints a dark picture of their relationship in which Combs gained control of her personal and professional life and subjected her to years of savage beatings, forced sexual encounters and the constant threat of violence.
Combs began aggressively pursuing Ventura, who signed with Bad Boy at 19 and quickly catapulted to fame, the lawsuit states, inviting himself to a gathering for her 21st birthday where he forcibly kissed her, and immediately exerted his power and influence.
Due to Combs’s status as the founder of Bad Boy Records, the lawsuit alleges, Ventura felt she could not refuse his advances – or offers of drugs – without jeopardizing her career. He lured her into an “ostentatious, fast-paced, and drug-fueled lifestyle”, according to the lawsuit.
Combs was allegedly prone to “uncontrollable rage” and forced Ventura to regularly “engage in sex acts with male sex workers” that he photographed and filmed. She was given drugs before and during, allowing her to “disassociate during these horrific encounters”, according to the suit. Ventura was a victim of sex trafficking as she was required to engage in forced sexual acts in multiple cities, the lawsuit states, adding that Combs also beat her severely.
Forbes magazine ranked him in 2017 as the world’s highest-paid musician, then earning an estimated $130m a year.
Several artists have publicly offered their support to Ventura. Aubrey O’Day, the former lead singer of the Bad Boy-signed group Danity Kane, wrote on Instagram: “Been trynna tell y’all for years.
“I am in full support of Cassie. It isn’t easy to take on one of the most powerful people in this industry and be honest about your experience with them,” she told Rolling Stone.
Meanwhile, Kid Cudi confirmed Ventura’s account that after the pair began a relationship, Combs allegedly blew up the rapper’s car. “This is all true,” he said to the New York Times through a representative.
Reuters contributed reporting