BY MOISES MENDEZ II and SIMMONE SHAH/TIME
On Thursday afternoon, the New York Times reported that the singer Cassie has filed a suit in the Federal District Court in Manhattan which alleges that Sean Combs physically and sexually abused her for years during their relationship. Cassie, whose full name is Cassandra Ventura, filed the lawsuit under New York’s Adult Survivors Act, which allows accusers to file lawsuits after the statute of limitations lapses. The period during which these suits may be filed is set to end next week.
According to the court documents, the abuse began shortly after Combs and Ventura met in 2005 when she was 19 and he was 37. The two were romantically involved from 2007 until about 2018. The lawsuit cites “threats of violence, excessive use of drugs, physical and psychological abuse, and sexual slavery.” The suit refers to forced sexual encounters with male prostitutes which Combs would watch, film, and masturbate to. It goes on to state that in 2018, “near the end of their relationship, Mr. Combs forced his way into her home and raped her.” Combs has denied all allegations.
Combs, the founder of Bad Boy Records, has been known throughout his career as a recording artist as Puff Daddy, Puffy, Diddy, and Love. In September, the three-time Grammy winner was awarded the Global Icon Award at the MTV Video Music Awards. He is one the most prominent figures in hip-hop, credited with helping commercialize the genre and boosting the careers of artists like the Notorious B.I.G. and Mary J. Bilge. Outside of music, he had a lucrative partnership with the popular liquor brand, Ciroc.
Ventura is a successful recording artist with major hits including her breakout single “Me & U.” In 2006 she was signed to a label that later became an imprint of Diddy’s Bad Boy record label. The complaint says that her association with Bad Boy Records ended in 2019.
“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. “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 lawsuit alleges that Combs “asserted complete control” over Ventura throughout their relationship. It alleges that in 2012, Combs was so angered by Ventura’s relationship with the rapper Kid Cudi that he told Ventura he was going to blow up Kid Cudi’s car. “Around that time, Kid Cudi’s car exploded in his driveway,” the suit says. A spokeswoman for Kid Cudi told the Times, “This is all true.”
“Mr. Combs vehemently denies these offensive and outrageous allegations,” Combs’ lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said in a statement emailed to TIME. “Ms. Ventura’s demand of $30 million, under the threat of writing a damaging book about their relationship, 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.”
Ventura’s lawyers denied the blackmail claim in a statement, noting, “Mr. Combs offered Ms. 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 women who suffer in silence. Ms. Ventura should be applauded for her bravery.”