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Hip-hop mogul Sean 'Diddy' Combs and singer Cassie settle abuse lawsuit

According to a new federal lawsuit, Sean Combs is accused of sexually abusing and trafficking his former partner Cassandra Ventura.
Gareth Cattermole
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According to a new federal lawsuit, Sean Combs is accused of sexually abusing and trafficking his former partner Cassandra Ventura.

Updated November 18, 2023 at 6:43 PM ET

A day after the pop singer Cassie accused hip-hop mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs of rape, trafficking and physical assault, the two parties settled the case out of court.

Cassie, whose real name is Casandra Ventura, filed a federal lawsuit on Thursday, alleging a history of coercion and abuse that went on for more than a decade.

Cassie's attorney, Douglas Wigdor, issued a statement about the settlement on Friday evening.

It said Combs and Ventura were satisfied with the deal they had struck, but it did not disclose the terms of the agreement.

Ventura said in a statement: "I have decided to resolve this matter amicably on terms that I have some level of control. I want to thank my family, fans and lawyers for their unwavering support."

On Saturday, Ben Brafman, Combs' lawyer, issued a statement emphasizing his client's innocence.

"Just so we're clear, a decision to settle a lawsuit, especially in 2023, is in no way an admission of wrongdoing," said Brafman. "Mr. Combs' decision to settle the lawsuit does not in any way undermine his flat-out denial of the claims. He is happy they got to a mutual settlement and wishes Ms. Ventura the best."

Brafman issued a previous statement on Thursday, in which he called the allegations against his client "offensive and outrageous."

"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," Brafman said. "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."

According to the lawsuit, the two met when Ventura was 19 years old and Combs was 37 years old. By 2006, Ventura signed a record deal with Combs' label Bad Boy Records. Combs then entrenched himself into Ventura's life, gaining control of all aspects of her life while plying her with drugs and alcohol, the lawsuit alleged.

The relationship soon turned violent. After finding out Ventura spoke with another music manager at a party, Combs allegedly kicked her in the face repeatedly. Combs' own security staff tried to stop him but was unable. According to the lawsuit, Combs then began forcing Ventura to perform sex acts with men he hired while he filmed.

In one particularly egregious example of the control Combs exerted, he allegedly became enraged after finding emails between Ventura and the rapper Kid Cudi. From the lawsuit:

"In February 2012, during Paris Fashion Week, Mr. Combs told Ms. Ventura that he was going to blow up Kid Cudi's car, and that he wanted to ensure that Kid Cudi was home with his friends when it happened. Around that time, Kid Cudi's car exploded in his driveway."

Combs is one of the biggest figures in popular music. His label, Bad Boy Records, has been home to some of the most foundational acts in hip-hop: the Notorious B.I.G., Faith Evans, Mase, and more. Last year he was given a BET Lifetime Achievement Award. In accepting the honor, he said "I really really have to give a sincere thank you to everyone who lifted me up in prayer."

In the lawsuit filed, Ventura thanked the passage of New York's Adult Survivor's Act as well as California's Sexual Abuse Accountability and Cover-Up Act for being able to "confront her abuser, and to hold him and those who enabled his abuse accountable for their actions."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: November 16, 2023 at 11:00 PM CST
An earlier version of this story misspelled the first name of Casandra Ventura as Cassandra.
Andrew Limbong is a reporter for NPR's Arts Desk, where he does pieces on anything remotely related to arts or culture, from streamers looking for mental health on Twitch to Britney Spears' fight over her conservatorship. He's also covered the near collapse of the live music industry during the coronavirus pandemic. He's the host of NPR's Book of the Day podcast and a frequent host on Life Kit.
Chloe Veltman
Chloe Veltman is a correspondent on NPR's Culture Desk.
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