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The Diddy Allegations Aren’t Entertainment, They’re Disturbing

The right response to the mounting accusations against the Bad Boy founder should be empathy for the victims, not mockery


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On Feb. 27, producer Rodney “Lil Rod” Jones filed a $30 million civil suit against Sean “Diddy” Combs alleging the hip-hop mogul of sexual misconduct and a host of other illegal activities. It’s the fifth lawsuit against Diddy since his ex Cassandra “Cassie” Ventura filed a suit last November accusing him of several misdeeds including sexual assault, physical abuse, and sex trafficking. The ensuing lawsuits, alleging a pattern of criminal wrongdoing concealed by his power and resources, have marred Combs’ reputation.

Jones’ 70-page filing, which was submitted in the Southern District of New York, is rife with damning details. He says that while living with Combs in multiple states, crafting 2023’s The Love Album, he was subject to mistreatment by Combs, including the Bad Boy Records founder fondling his genitals, sexually coercing him in various manners, and holding parties where underage girls were in attendance (while drugging attendees). He also accused Combs of brandishing guns, bragging about getting away with shooting people, and boasting about his powerful connections in a threatening manner. Jones alleges that when he told Combs Enterprises Chief of Staff Kristina Khorram about Combs’ actions, he was told, “You know, Sean will be Sean.”

Elements of the lawsuit have come under scrutiny: Adult-film star D’Angelo “Knockout” Marquis claims that video stills purported in the lawsuit to be of producer Stevie J are actually video stills from one of his scenes. Jones alleges that Combs forced him to cover up a shooting that occurred inside a bathroom at L.A.’s Chalice Studios, but TMZ reported that two people were charged for the shooting, and that it occurred outside the studio. Documents submitted as part of the suit also contain pictures of Combs purportedly with underage girls at a party, but two women have come forward to claim that they are the people in the pictures and were adults at the time they were taken.

Combs’ attorney Shawn Holley claims that “Lil Rod is nothing more than a liar who filed a $30 million lawsuit shamelessly looking for an undeserved payday. His reckless name-dropping about events that are pure fiction and simply did not happen is nothing more than a transparent attempt to garner headlines.” She added, “We have overwhelming, indisputable proof that his claims are complete lies.”

It’s no one’s job but the courts to decide the validity of Jones’ claims. But what’s going on in the court of public opinion is disgusting. The assertions against Diddy are revolting, disturbing, and disappointing — but to some, they’re entertaining. In a portion of the lawsuit, Jones claims that Combs told him that he had sex with musicians Meek Mill and Usher — the clues in the document’s footnotes essentially reveal their identity. Jones’ laundry list of accusations, which are as serious as it gets, have since been trivialized by gossip bloggers seeking headlines, and childish, homophobic reactions by onlookers. Meek wasn’t accused of any misconduct and was an ancillary footnote of the lawsuit. But somehow Jones’ secondhand claims about Meek have become the headline takeaway — an indictment of our collective value system.

Meek essentially denied Jones’ accusations in a lengthy string of posts yesterday on X (formerly Twitter), noting, “No man or watt would ever approach me about gay activity and the whole place don’t get flipped … woke up seeing this on every blog like they know I’m coming! lol.” Meek has always been known for his unpolished social media presence, which worked against him as fans relentlessly engaged with his barrage of declarations of his heterosexuality. And to make more of a spectacle, he ended up arguing with DJ Akademiks after the controversial media personality read the lawsuit on his stream. Then, Meek traded X posts with manosphere blogger Andrew Tate, which was a pretty unlikely clash. The fallout of the assertion about Meek, and his ensuing response, became a quintessential X dumpster fire, where quote posts and memes flew at a feverish pace by people trying to go viral. That’s all well and good when the catalyst for the jokes is gaffes like “nigger Navy” or contentious rap beef. But yesterday’s jokes came in response to someone making a slew of traumatic accusations.

Meek’s X tiffs with Akademiks and Tate became breakout news. But maybe we should have stayed focused on the core of what is at stake: potential sexual assault, including against underage girls. If we weren’t in a homophobic society, Meek probably wouldn’t have responded to the allegations so bombastically, and the resulting fuss may not have been so loud.

This isn’t the first time, and sadly won’t be the last time that homophobia has obfuscated a reckoning with sexual-assault allegations. In 2007, B2K member Raz B accused his cousin and manager Chris Stokes of sexual molestation. Instead of garnering public empathy, he largely became a punchline. Last year, he recanted the allegations against Stokes, instead blaming his brothers for the molestation (days later, he climbed onto the roof of a Kansas City hospital after saying he didn’t “feel safe” and was placed on a 72-hour psychiatric hold). It’s worth wondering how the public derision may have affected his mental health over the years.

Similarly, when NBA player Dwight Howard was accused of sexually assaulting a man last year, the fallout fixated on him potentially being gay, allowing him to post a response focused on his sexuality instead of the allegations. We’re consistently so fascinated by queerness that it takes precedence over sexual assault. What does that say about us? How many men will never come forward about their abuse because of the stigma that still persists in some quarters against the LGBTQ community? Such homophobia only enables the people who are still violating people in the shadows.

Our inability to stay focused has previously reared its head in the ongoing lawsuits against Combs. In December, a Michigan woman filed a suit alleging that Combs, then-Bad Boy President Harve Pierre, and a third man brought her to New York and violently assaulted her in 2003, when she was 17. Combs and his attorneys want her name revealed to the public. In response to their motion, her lawyers said, “It is clear that Combs’ and Pierre’s only defense to these allegations will be to shame our client, cause her to be saddled with unwanted public attention about a horrific event in her youth, and will discourage her from pursuing justice.… This is exactly why courts allow plaintiffs like Ms. Doe to proceed under a pseudonym.” If her identity were to be revealed, there would inevitably be distractions that take the focus off of her allegations.

We’re too comfortable turning people’s trauma into our entertainment. Many onlookers have responded to the legal actions taken against Combs by voicing their anticipation of a documentary dealing with Combs’ situation that 50 Cent is producing and says is currently in development. The phrase “Surviving X” has become a morbid part of our lexicon since the Surviving R. Kelly documentary detailed the singer’s decades-long abuse of young girls. Dream Hampton, producer of that Lifetime documentary, told The New Yorker, “Most sexual-violence survivors don’t find justice. I want justice for these women.” The documentary wasn’t created as a means of entertainment, it was about courting justice. It was as if the unheard girls-turned-women had no choice but to combine their stories into one undeniable chronicle. Their bravery was our shame, and a reflection of the dismissal that they had previously faced by so many vessels of the public.

We shouldn’t be clamoring for televised documentation of someone’s sexual trauma like it’s some Shonda Rhimes drama. We’re better served working toward a world where survivors feel comfortable coming forward and monsters don’t get to loom for so long that their onslaught necessitates documentaries. That starts with taking their claims seriously, and not being distracted by our own childish biases. The next time sexual misconduct allegations are made against a public figure, maybe we should focus on the crimes in question. Being gay isn’t one.

From Rolling Stone US