Producer and musician Sean Combs was sued in federal court in New York City on Thursday by his former girlfriend Casandra Ventura, who alleges she was raped and subjected to years of repeated physical and other abuses by Combs.
The complaint, obtained by CNN, alleges Combs “lured Ms. Ventura into an ostentatious, fast-paced, and drug-fueled lifestyle, and into a romantic relationship with him” within two years of the pair meeting in 2005 or 2006 and Combs signing Ventura to his record label, Bad Boy Records, soon after.
Ventura claims in the suit that Combs “exerted his power and influence” over her throughout the course of their professional and romantic relationship. According to the complaint, she was 19 when they met and Combs was 37, and their business relationship lasted until 2019.
The complaint details claims that Combs was physically violent toward Ventura, controlled all aspects of her personal life, “introduced” her to a lifestyle of “excessive alcohol and substance abuse,” and forced her to engage in various sex acts with other men during that time.
In the lawsuit, Ventura alleges that after she tried to end their relationship in 2018, Combs forced his way into her home and raped her.
Now a mother to two children, Ventura claims in the suit that she struggled with addictions to drugs and alcohol “that were established and fueled by Mr. Combs” throughout the course of their relationship.
The complaint states that Ventura still suffers from “immense emotional distress” and that at one point checked into an inpatient rehabilitation center after having suicidal thoughts she linked to abuse.
“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 – an R&B singer who goes by the stage name Cassie – said in a statement to CNN.
“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.”
Ben Brafman, attorney for Combs, said in a statement emailed to CNN via Combs’ publicist that “Mr. Combs vehemently denies these offensive and outrageous allegations.”
The statement continued, “For the past 6 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’ reputation and seeking a pay day.”
The lawsuit accuses Combs and other defendants of sex trafficking, human trafficking, sexual assault, gender-motivated violence, sexual harassment, gender discrimination and a hostile work environment.
It additionally accuses Combs of sexual battery.
Ventura is seeking unspecified monetary damages.
In addition to Combs, the lawsuit names his companies, including Bad Boy Records, Bad Boy Entertainment and Combs Enterprises. It also names Epic Records, which it lists as an employer of Ventura.
CNN has reached out to Epic Records for comment.
The New York’s Adult Survivors Act went into effect in late November 2022 and allows adult survivors of sexual abuse to sue their abusers in New York – even if the statute of limitations on their claims had expired. The law has given adult survivors of sexual assault one year to file lawsuits against their perpetrators and is set to expire on November 24.
Combs, 54, founded the music label Bad Boy in 1993, and has gone by stage names Puff Daddy and Diddy. Credited with work that is regarded as instrumental in the growth of the hip-hop genre, Combs has won three Grammys in his career, along with 14 nominations. While he achieved initial success with his music, Combs also became a notable producer as well as entrepreneur.
Ventura, 37, is an R&B singer most known for her song “Me & U” off of her 2006 self-titled debut album “Cassie,” which was released while she was signed to Combs’ Bad Boy label. She has also made music with artists such as Lil Wayne and Akon, and in 2009 released the single “Must Be Love” featuring Combs.
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