Cassie, an R&B singer who was previously affiliated to Sean Combs’ label, filed a lawsuit against the producer and music mogul, who has been one of the most well-known names in hip-hop for decades, in federal court on Thursday. Cassie accused Mr. Combs of sexual assault and of abusing his body repeatedly over a period of around ten years.
Cassie, whose real name is Casandra Ventura and who has been Mr. Combs’s romantic partner for a long time, filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court in Manhattan alleging that shortly after they met in 2005, when she was 19 years old, he started abusing and controlling her, forcing her to have sex with a series of male prostitutes while he was filming the encounters. According to the lawsuit, in 2018, when their relationship was coming to an end, Mr. Combs broke into her house and sexually assaulted her.
In a statement, Ms. Ventura said, “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, after years in silence and darkness.”
Ben Brafman, Mr. Combs’ attorney, responded by saying, “Mr. Combs vehemently denies these offensive and outrageous allegations.” Mr. Combs has been the target of Ms. Ventura’s adamant demand for $30 million over the last six months, which was categorically denied as outright blackmail, on the grounds that she may write a damaging book about their relationship. After taking back her earlier threat, Ms. Ventura has now turned to bringing a lawsuit full of ludicrous and unsubstantiated falsehoods in an attempt to damage Mr. Combs’s image and get financial compensation.
According to Ms. Ventura’s attorney, Douglas Wigdor, the parties had communicated prior to the lawsuit being filed. “In order to silence Ms. Ventura and stop this lawsuit from being filed, Mr. Combs offered her eight figures,” he said. “She disapproved of his efforts.”
The action brought by Ms. Ventura is the most recent in a string of civil lawsuits alleging sexual assault against well-known men in the music business, including as Neil Portnow, the former chairman of the company that produces the Grammy Awards, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, and executive L.A. Reid. (Mr. Tyler and Mr. Reid have not commented; Mr. Portnow has refuted the allegation.)
The 54-year-old Mr. Combs, who started Bad Boy in 1993, was instrumental in the commercialization of hip-hop, collaborating with artists like as Mary J. Blige and the Notorious B.I.G. His estimated net worth is $1 billion. Forbes assessed Mr. Combs’s yearly profits last year at $90 million, mostly attributing that sum to his previous stake in Ciroc, a liquor brand held by the massive Diageo.
Throughout his career, Mr. Combs has gone by several names, including Puff Daddy, Diddy, and Love. He is perhaps the most well-known music executive of his time. However, the lawsuit paints Mr. Combs as a violent man who, in addition to abusing Ms. Ventura frequently, wanted her to carry his revolver in her handbag and implied that he was the one who detonated a rival suitor’s automobile. According to the lawsuit, Mr. Combs once threatened to hang a friend of Ms. Ventura over a hotel balcony on the seventeenth story.
The court documents, which name more defendants, claim that other employees of Mr. Combs’ had assisted him in keeping Ms. Ventura under control, sometimes by threatening her with retaliation (such as stopping her music if she disobeyed his commands) or by covering up his actions. The lawsuit asks for undisclosed damages and names Mr. Combs and many of his affiliated businesses as defendants.
As to the lawsuit filed by Ms. Ventura, she joined Mr. Combs’s social circle shortly after meeting him and signed a contract with Bad Boy, which coincidentally published her first album in 2006.
However, the lawsuit claims that he quickly started to exercise an unprecedented degree of control over her life. He not only managed her profession but also supplied her with a vehicle, an apartment, clothes, and even access to her private medical information. The lawsuit claims that the findings of an M.R.I. scan she had for memory loss, which may have been brought on by drug use or a beating she said she received from Mr. Combs, were sent directly to Mr. Combs.
According to the lawsuit, Mr. Combs allegedly gave Ms. Ventura “copious amounts of drugs,” such as ketamine and ecstasy, and encouraged her to consume them. He reportedly often lost control and beat Ms. Ventura “multiple times each year.” Ms. Ventura never called the police, according to the lawsuit, because she thought it “would merely give Mr. Combs another excuse to hurt her.”
The lawsuit describes an incident that happened in Los Angeles in 2009 when Mr. Combs noticed Ms. Ventura chatting to another talent agent and became angry. He then forced her into a vehicle and kicked her repeatedly in the face, causing her to bleed. The lawsuit claims that Mr. Combs then ordered his employees to take her to a hotel room so she could recover for a week. The lawsuit states that Mr. Combs denied her request to return home to be with her parents.
According to the lawsuit, “Ms. Ventura felt that saying ‘no’ to Mr. Combs would cost her something — her family, her friends, her career, or even her life” after realizing the severe consequences of rejecting him and the degree to which he would cut her off from her support system. Even when she made an attempt to leave Mr. Combs, the lawsuit claims he dispatched his staff to entice her to return.
According to Ms. Ventura, in one of the incidents detailed in the court documents, Mr. Combs became so enraged over her dating the musician Kid Cudi at the beginning of 2012 that he threatened to blow up the rapper’s vehicle. The lawsuit claims that Kid Cudi’s automobile exploded in his driveway at the same moment.
Kid Cudi verified Ms. Ventura’s claim that he had an exploding automobile via a representative. All of this is true, he said.
The lawsuit claims that after a few years of dating Ms. Ventura, Mr. Combs started pressuring her “to engage in a fantasy of his called ‘voyeurism,’” whereby she was ordered to have sex with a series of male prostitutes while Mr. Combs observed, masturbated, snapped photos, and recorded video.
Mr. Combs referred to these interactions—which included costumes like masquerade masks and lingerie—as “freak offs,” according to the lawsuit. They went on for years, occurring at Mr. Combs’s residences and upscale hotels across the country. According to the lawsuit, he gave Ms. Ventura instructions to look for male sex workers on escort services’ websites.
In her lawsuit, Ms. Ventura claims that she accepted the drugs given to her at these gatherings because they “allowed her to disassociate during these horrific encounters.”
The lawsuit claims that Ms. Ventura would remove footage from these instances that had been recorded on her phone, but Mr. Combs informed her that he still had access to those recordings and once forced her to view a video that she had claimed to have erased while traveling.
The lawsuit claims that Ms. Ventura was a victim of sex trafficking as a consequence of these contacts for sex in several places. In addition, Mr. Combs is charged in the lawsuit with sexual assault, sexual battery, and breaking the gender-motivated violence ordinance in New York City.
Several stories of Ms. Ventura’s futile efforts to break free from Mr. Combs’s authority are included in her lawsuit.
For instance, the lawsuit claims that in 2016, during a “freak off” at a hotel in Los Angeles, Mr. Combs struck Ms. Ventura in the face with a punch, resulting in a black eye. She attempted to exit the room while he slept off, but Mr. Combs awoke and pursued her outside, where he hurled glass vases at her, breaking glass all over the hallway, according the court document. The event was recorded by the hotel’s security cameras, but according to the lawsuit, Mr. Combs paid the hotel $50,000 for the video.
According to the court document, Ms. Ventura “repeatedly said ‘no’ and tried to push him away” when Mr. Combs broke into her apartment after their dinner date in 2018. The complaint claims that she permanently left him after that. The next year, Ms. Ventura wed personal trainer Alex Fine, and the two of them now have two small children. The lawsuit states that she parted ways with Bad Boy in 2019.
Like other recent cases involving sexual assault, Ms. Ventura’s complaint is being filed under the Adult Survivors Act, a New York provision that permits victims of sexual abuse to pursue civil claims after the statute of limitations has passed. The deadline for filing lawsuits under this statute, which is one year, is next week.
Ms. Ventura addressed the significance of the statute in a statement, and it is included in her lawsuit.
She said, “It became clear that this was an opportunity to speak out about the trauma I have experienced and that I will be recovering from for the rest of my life with the expiration of New York’s Adult Survivors Act fast approaching.”