Casandra Ventura, who’s best known as the R&B singer Cassie, has filed a lawsuit against hip-hop mogul Sean Combs, alleging he raped and physically abused her over the course of a decade. The suit, obtained by Rolling Stone, claims that the abuse began in 2005 when Combs allegedly began plying a then 19-year-old Ventura with alcohol and drugs. Ventura also accuses Combs of beating her and forcing her to have sex with male prostitutes, which she claims he filmed while masturbating. In 2018, she alleges he raped her after forcing his way into her home.
Ventura’s lawyer filed the suit Thursday in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Combs’ label, Bad Boy Entertainment, as well as Epic Records, Combs Enterprises, LLC, and others are listed as codefendants. Ventura was an employee of these businesses from 2006 to 2019.
The lawsuit details several causes of action, including sexual assault, sex trafficking, sexual harassment violations of laws related to human trafficking, battery and sexual battery, a violation of a law related to gender-related violence. She’s seeking an unspecified amount of money in the form of damages.
“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.”
Combs’ lawyer, Ben Brafman, provided a statement to Rolling Stone denying the allegations. “Mr. Combs vehemently denies these offensive and outrageous allegations,” he said. “For the past six 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’s reputation and seeking a payday.”
A bullet-pointed list of Combs’ alleged offenses in the 35-page filing include that he raped her when she tried to leave him, that he “often punched, beat, kicked and stomped” on her, that he blew up a car that belonged to a man he thought was interested in Ventura, rapper Kid Cudi, that he once ran to confront Suge Knight with a gun, that he asked Ventura to carry his gun to intimidate her, and that he introduced her to “a lifestyle of excessive alcohol and substance abuse and required her to procure illicit prescriptions to satisfy his own addictions.”
Douglas Wigdor, one of the attorneys representing Ventura, responded by saying: “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 woman who suffer in silence. Ms. Ventura should be applauded for her bravery.”
The suit claims that Combs, who is nearly 20 years older than Ventura, asserted “complete control” over Ventura and that he was “prone to uncontrollable rage, and frequently beat Ms. Ventura savagely.” People who worked for Combs’ businesses saw the abuse, the suit alleges, and were afraid to come to her aid. It says he would lovebomb her after violent incidents and attempt to hide her from public.
When she would attempt to distance herself from him, he would send people to find her and convince her to return to him, according to the suit. “Many went as far as to explicitly state that her failure to return to Mr. Combs would hinder her success in the entertainment industry,” it says. “When she believed that she had finally separated from her long-time abuser, she joined Mr. Combs for a dinner, after which he forced her into her home and raped her while she repeatedly said ‘no’ and tried to push him away.”
The suit also details other instances of alleged abuse, including a time he forcibly kissed her in a bathroom at an afterparty for her 21st birthday party. “She immediately ran out of the bathroom and the hotel suite and cried,” it says. “She told her best friend at the time about what had happened but was too scared to tell anyone else.” Another time, he allegedly gave her ecstasy without telling her what it was.
She also alleges that he used a fake flyer for an event in Miami in 2007 as a ruse to get her away from her boyfriend at the time. She agreed to go with him even though she knew it was fake, the suit says, because she didn’t want to “go against [Combs’] wishes.” While there, she says he gave her more drugs and had sex with her. In the years that followed, she says he secured her apartments in New York and L.A. and bought her a Jaguar car. He also allegedly asked for her medical records to be sent to his email address.
“Over the next decade, multiple times each year, Mr. Combs would violently beat Ms. Ventura, leaving bruises on her body,” the suit claims. “After every instance in which he beat Ms. Ventura, Mr. Combs used his money and power to orchestrate extensive efforts to hide the evidence of his abuse, including by hiding Ms. Ventura in hotels for days at a time to let her bruises heal.”
She claims in the suit that he started forcing her to have sex with male prostitutes when she was 20, allegedly telling her he was interested in “voyeurism” and wanted to see her “with another dick” and instructed her to look online for men with “large black penises.” He reportedly called these encounters “freak offs” or “FOs,” and at one point, the suit claims, he asked for them weekly.
“During the FOs, in addition to directing Ms. Ventura and masturbating, Mr. Combs would use his phone, laptop, and tablet to film Ms. Ventura having sex with the hired sex worker,” the suit claims. “He treated the forced encounter as a personal art project, adjusting the candles he used for lighting to frame the videos he took. … Mr. Combs repeatedly made clear that he retained many videos of Ms. Ventura during FOs.” The suit claims she found these encounters “repulsive” and would sometimes vomit beforehand.
On one occasion after an FO, the suit claims that Combs was intoxicated and went to her hotel room where he allegedly dangled one of her friends off the 17th floor balcony. “Ms. Ventura and her friends were scared by Mr. Combs’s erratic behavior, but Ms. Ventura was heavily sedated because of the drugs she took to participate in the FO, and therefore was unable to respond to Mr. Combs’s terrifying behavior,” the suit claims.
The lawsuit also describes several incidents where Combs’ alleged physical abuse left her with bruises and black eyes. She claims he once paid $50,000 for security footage in a hotel hallway that might have incriminated him.
Combs allegedly blew up Kid Cudi’s car in 2012 because Ventura was dating him. A spokesman for Kid Cudi told The New York Times, “This is all true.”
She attempted to end their relationship at an Italian restaurant in Malibu, California in September 2018. The suit claims he followed her to her home, which he paid for, and forced his way in. “Mr. Combs forced himself into her apartment and tried to kiss Ms. Ventura,” the filing claims. “She told him to stop and attempted to push him away. Mr. Combs then forcibly pulled off Ms. Ventura’s clothing and unbuckled his belt. He proceeded to rape Ms. Ventura while she repeatedly said ‘no’ and tried to push him away.”
The alleged abuse has left her with trauma, which she’s treated with medical and psychological care. She married a personal trainer, Alex Fine, in 2019 and now has two children with him.
Ventura filed her lawsuit under New York’s Adult Survivors Act, a one-year window in which victims of sexual abuse can file lawsuits irrespective of the statute of limitations. The window closes next week.
Combs signed Cassie to a 10-album deal, according to the suit. She released only one full-length album, Cassie, which came out in 2006 and made it up to Number Four on the Billboard albums chart. Her most recent singles, “Love a Loser” and “Don’t Play It Safe,” came out in 2017. Last year, she made a guest appearance on “Universal Love,” a song that also featured Chris Brown, the Game, and Chlöe.
Combs founded Bad Boy in 1993, and became famous initially for his production work on records by the Notorious B.I.G. and Mary J. Blige. He could be worth as much as $1 billion, according to the Times.
From Rolling Stone US