Tue, 05 Dec 2023

The rapper's legal team has rejected the allegations as "blatant blackmail"

Hip-hop icon Sean 'Diddy' Combs has been accused in a federal court by former girlfriend Casandra Ventura of numerous instances of rape and sex trafficking in what she says was a decade-long campaign of abuse and violence against her.

The lawsuit, filed in the Federal District Court in Manhattan on Thursday, claims that the rap performer and producer repeatedly raped and physically abused Ventura - a singer who performed under the name Cassie - over a period of ten years beginning when she was 19 and he was 37. It added that Combs controlled every aspect of her life under a constant threat of violence until their relationship ended in 2018.

In a statement published by the New York Times on Thursday, Ventura said 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."

The lawsuit describes Combs as a "serial domestic abuser" who it says would frequently physically abuse Ventura "leaving black eyes, bruises and blood." It also alleges that Combs "plied the vulnerable Ms. Ventura" with drugs and alcohol to the point that the substances "controlled her life."

Among various other allegations described in the lawsuit, it adds that Combs forced Ventura to have sex with male prostitutes while he filmed the encounters and that, in 2018, he forcibly entered her home and raped her. In another incident, the suit says Combs dangled an associate of Ventura's over a balcony in a high-rise hotel.

Because the instances of forced sex occurred in different cities in the US, Ventura is a victim of sex trafficking, the lawsuit also says.

A representative for Combs said in a statement that the music mogul denies the "offensive and outrageous" allegations which were made public after she sought $30 million to maintain her silence.

"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," the statement said, according to the New York Times. Combs' lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, added separately to BBC News that Ventura's allegations were "blatant blackmail."

However, a lawyer for Ventura, Douglas Wigdor, told the Times that "Mr. Combs offered Ms. Ventura eight figures to silence her and prevent the filing of this lawsuit. She rejected his efforts."

Ventura is seeking unspecified damages for lost wages in addition to mental pain and severe emotional distress.

Three-time Grammy Award-winner Combs, who was previously known as Puff Daddy, has been a major player in the American music industry since he founded Bad Boy Records in 1993, forming collaborations with the likes of the Notorious BIG, Mary J. Blige and Lil' Kim.

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