Sean Combs, a hip-hop icon and the founder of Bad Boy Records, has been accused of rape and abuse in a major lawsuit filed by the singer Cassie that alleges he used his powerful network to keep her trapped in a violent relationship with him.
Cassie, whose legal name is Casandra Ventura, dated Combs for more than a decade. She alleges that over the course of their relationship, Combs assaulted her multiple times – viciously beating and raping her – and controlled every aspect of her life, the New York Times first reported on Thursday. She faced “a cycle of abuse, violence, and sex trafficking” until their relationship ended in 2018, according to the lawsuit.
She said in a statement to the Times that after “years in silence and darkness”, she was “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”.
A representative for Combs, who has gone by the names Puff Daddy, P Diddy, Diddy and Love, denied the claims, writing that the allegations were “offensive and outrageous” and came after Ventura demanded $30m from the mogul.
“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,” the statement reads.
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.
Emails seeking comment from Ventura’s representatives were not immediately returned.
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, a three-time Grammy winner, runs a business empire that includes everything from alcohol to music and has been a major hip-hop figure since founding Bad Boy Records in 1993, debuting and working closely with musicians like the Notorious BIG, Mary J Blige and Lil Kim.
Combs began aggressively pursuing Ventura, who signed with Bad Boy at age 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’ 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.
After they began dating, Combs took Ventura on “lavish” vacations, paid for apartments for her in New York and Los Angeles and gave her designer clothing and supplied her with drugs – a lifestyle the lawsuit says was designed to keep her “complacent and compliant”. He became controlling and abusive, according to the lawsuit, often punching, kicking and stomping her. He allegedly forced her to hold his guns in her purse on at least two occasions.
The now 54-year-old 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.
In 2015 Combs beat Ventura so severely that when his security guard and assistant saw her “two black eyes, a burst and bruised lip, and a huge welt on her forehead”, they began to cry, according to the lawsuit. She was routinely made to hide in hotels while her bruises healed, Ventura alleges.
Combs used his companies to further control her life, the lawsuit states, and though his “loyal network” witnessed his assaults, they were unwilling to do anything “meaningful to stop Mr Combs’s behavior”.
“Her volatile and abusive partner – who also owned her label and therefore held her future success in his hands – had fully exerted control over every aspect of her life,” the lawsuit stated.
He used the threat of further violence as well as his network to keep Ventura in the relationship anytime she tried to leave, according to the lawsuit. After she began a brief relationship with Kid Cudi in 2012, Combs allegedly blew up the rapper’s car. Kid Cudi confirmed Ventura’s account to the New York Times, saying: “This is all true.”
In 2016, the Bad Boy Management president, James Cruz, told Ventura that her single would not be released unless she answered phone calls, the lawsuit states.
By 2018, Ventura was desperate to end their relationship. After a dinner where she believed they would discuss the issue, Combs forced himself into her home and raped her, according to the lawsuit. Shortly after, she left the home, which he had paid for, returned the car he had bought her and separated herself completely.
The harms and trauma that she experienced have required “intensive medical and psychological care”.
“Ms Ventura therefore seeks justice for the decade of her life that Mr Combs took away from her with threats of violence, excessive use of drugs, physical and psychological abuse, and sexual slavery,” the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit seeks damages for lost wages as well as mental pain and severe emotional distress.
Sophie Anderson, a UK-based writer, is your guide to the latest trends, viral sensations, and internet phenomena. With a finger on the pulse of digital culture, she explores what’s trending across social media and pop culture, keeping readers in the know about the latest online sensations.