Sean Combs has been sued in federal court by Casandra Ventura, who once recorded for his Bad Boy label as Cassie, with the singer alleging that the music mogul raped and beat her over a period of a decade.
In response, Combs’ team is characterizing the suit as the result of an unsuccessful shakedown attempt by a former girlfriend.
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The suit was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. It names Bad Boy Records and other companies affiliated with Combs as complicit in the alleged abuse. Epic Records is also named as a defendant.
“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,” Ventura said in a statement released by her legal team, Douglas H. Wigdor, Meredith A. Firetog and Michael J. Willemin of Wigdor LLP. “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.”
The suit was filed with only a week to go before the Adult Survivors Act, which allowed for an exemption to the statute of limitations, expires on Nov. 23.
Combs’ lawyer Ben Brafman denies the allegations, saying in a statement: “Mr. Combs vehemently denies these offensive and outrageous allegations. For the past six 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. 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’s reputation and seeking a payday.”
One of Ventura’s attorneys, Wigdor, responded to Brafman’s statement by claiming that Combs offered 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. Ms. Ventura should be applauded for her bravery.”
The complaint filed by Ventura, who was long known as Combs’ romantic partner as well as a protege, says that she was 19 when she began a professional and sexual relationship by then-37-year-old Combs, who signed her to Bad Boy. A statement from her lawyers says he “plied the vulnerable Ms. Ventura with drugs and alcohol, causing her to fall into dangerous addictions that controlled her life,” and “was a serial domestic abuser, who would regularly beat and kick Ms. Ventura, leaving black eyes, bruises, and blood.”
The suit contends Combs forced Ventura to engage in sexual intercourse with male prostitutes, while he allegedly masturbated and recorded the sex acts.
Wigdor further said in a statement: “No human should have to endure what Ms. Ventura has endured. Her ability and willingness to speak up against the abuse she suffered, and seeking to hold accountable her abuser and those who enabled the abuse, is a testament to her strength and resilience. We are honored to represent this brave victim in her pursuit of justice.”
Bad Boy released Cassie’s sole album to date in 2006; it debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. Her song “Me & U” was a hit, as well, reaching No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100.
One shocking allegation in the suit is the contention that Combs “blew up a man’s car after he learned that he was romantically interested in Ms. Ventura.” The man in question was rapper Kid Cudi. In response to the allegation that his car exploded in his driveway after the threat, Cudi said in a statement given to the New York Times: “This is all true.”
Other allegations included in the suit: that Combs “ran out of his apartment with a firearm in pursuit of a rival industry executive whom he learned was nearby… demanded that Ms. Ventura to carry his firearm in her purse just to make her uncomfortable and demonstrate how dangerous he is… and introduced Ms. Ventura to a lifestyle of excessive alcohol and substance abuse and required her to procure illicit prescriptions to satisfy his own addictions.”
The suit further says that Combs “was prone to uncontrollable rage, and frequently beat Ms. Ventura savagely. These beatings were witnessed by Mr. Combs’ staff and employees of Bad Boy Entertainment and Mr. Combs’s related businesses, but no one dared to speak up against their frightening and ferocious boss… Following these episodes of horrific abuse, Mr. Combs would immediately attempt to hide Ms. Ventura and the evidence of his violent rage. He often showered her with gifts following incidents of physical violence, a typical pattern of behavior by serial abusers.”
Ventura’s lawyers say that she did make attempts to break away but would be coerced back before the alleged rape that marked the end of their relationship.
“Every time she hid,” the filing claims, Combs’ “Mr. Combs’s “vast network of corporations and affiliated entities found her” and some of his employees “went as far as to explicitly state that her failure to return to Mr. Combs would hinder her success in the entertainment industry.”
Finally, the suit contends that in 2018, “when she believed that she had finally separated from her long-time abuser, she joined Mr. Combs for a dinner, after which he forced her into her home and raped her while she repeatedly said ‘no’ and tried to push him away.” It describes her as “seek(ing) 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.”
Her association with Bad Boy ended in 2018, the complaint says — 12 years after she released her only album for the label. Although there was never a full-length follow-up to the 2006 “Cassie” debut album, she subsequently released a handful of non-album tracks as singles, the last of which were in 2017. None of her singles after 2006 registered on the Hot 100.
The action by Ventura’s attorneys cites federal sex trafficking laws, the New York State Human Rights Law, the New York City Human Rights Law, the Gender Motivated Violence Act, the New York Services for Victims of Human Trafficking, the California Sexual Abuse and Cover Up Accountability Act, and the California Trafficking Victims Protection Act.
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