For the second week in a row, abuse allegations involving celebrities are making headlines and stirring up discussion around domestic violence on social media.
In a lawsuit filed Thursday singer Cassie accused hip-hop mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs, of years of abuse, trafficking and even raping her in her own home when she tried to leave him in 2018. According to Business Insider, the two started dating in 2007, shortly after Cassie released her first album under Combs’ label Bad Boy Records.
Abuse weaved into their decade-long relationship early on, according to Cassie’s lawsuit, which said she was introduced to drugs, often beaten to the point that she bled and had black eyes, and was forced to engage in sexual acts with male prostitutes while Combs’ watched and masturbated. The lawsuit also alleges that Combs blew up rapper Kid Cudi’s car because he tried to pursue her – which his rep confirmed with the New York Times.
Combs joins a growing list of powerful music executives who have been accused of sexual abuse, including Russell Simmons. Historically these types of cases have not always garnered the support that we find today, specifically in hip-hop. The Louder than a Riot podcast cites a 2005 sexual harassment case against hip-hop magazine The Source as “hip hop’s missed opportunity for a Me Too movement.” Activist Tarana Burke, who founded #MeToo, specifically calls out the hip hop industry for being left out of the movement she created.
“No matter what we do, you have some way in which men will silence [us], will not recognize we have these moments where we get diminished. And you’re going to have people who will excoriate me. They’ll be like, ‘You just want to take down our men’,” Tarana Burke said in an April interview on the podcast.
One in three women experience physical violence at the hand of a partner, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, accounting for 15% of all violence crime. The number is low because most of these cases are not reported to police, especially by Black women who are at higher risk for intimate partner violence, but face additional barriers to seeking help from law enforcement. The National Crime Victimization survey estimates that about half of all domestic violence cases go unreported.
What is the law and what does that mean for abuse survivors?
In her statement, Cassie cited that the expiration date of the New York Adults Survivors Act prompted her to share the details of her experience as she attempts to recover.
The New York Adults Survivors Act allowed adult survivors of sexual abuse a one-year window past the statute of limitations to file civil suits against their abuser. This policy, which NRP reports is ending on November 23 also allowed over 2,500 sexual abuse lawsuits including high-profile cases former Presdient Donald Trump, and music executive L.A. Reid.
Opting to settle, versus bringing the cast to trial prompted some to take to social media to criticize Cassie or accuse her of lying. Rapper Slim Thug, for instance, accused her of trying to “come up with ways to figure out how to get paid,” and made comments stating that accusations should be “null and void” if victims do not come forward at the time of the crime.
According to a Forbes report, sole victims, opposed to a group of victims as in the Harvey Weinstein case, are less likely to be believed, and these types of cases can be difficult to prove without physical evidence of abuse that includes police reports, medical records, photos of injuries, recordings of abuse while it happened, and detailed testimony during the trial.
“The vast majority of women and victims of sex abuse … will tell you that the legal system is not a place that they go for justice. Most people never report, and that’s because the criminal system does not take those things seriously in the first place. Most rape kits go untested, most allegations go ignored…” said social justice lawyer Olayemi Olurin in an interview with Marc Lamont Hill on Nov. 18.
Opting to settle, versus bringing the case to trial, can also offer the victim more control of the outcome, according to Shubin Law, a firm that represents victims of sexual abuse. Cassie said just that in her statement Friday.
Though we won’t hear more details of the case play out in court, the allegations presented by Cassie may leave a mark on Combs’ image. He has been accused of violent incidents throughout his career, from physically assaulting a record executive to allegedly swinging a kettlebell at his son’s football coach with many controversies in between.
Cassie is not the first in the industry to accuse the mogul of physical or sexual abuse. Here are four other times women shared red flags about Diddy and were ignored and few more notable and questionable instances:
Kimora Lee Simmons, 2004
In a 2004 interview with New York Magazine, the former model and fashion mogul said that Combs threatened to hit her. Little details of this exchange were provided in the article, simply described as “a nasty cloudburst when Kimora said something to Combs and he threatened to hit her.”
“And I was pregnant! The moron!” said Simmons, who then noted that Combs got on his knees in public to apologize.
Cindy Rueda, 2017
Cindy Rueda, Combs’ former chef, filed a sexual harassment and hostile work environment lawsuit in 2017 alleging that she was regularly served and prepared food for Combs’ and his guests while they were engaged in sexual acts, or immediately after.
Rueda claimed that sometimes she would walk in and find Combs naked, “[he] made comments about his body” and asked Rueda if “she was attracted to or liked his naked body,” according to Essence. The suit was settled in 2019, though no details of the settlement were released.
Virginia V, 2019
Virginia V aka Gina Huynh dated Combs for a five-year period and made allegations against the mogul, including mental, emotional and physical abuse, which are strikingly similar to Cassie’s. In a 2019 interview with media personality Tasha K, Huynh recounts numerous occasions when Combs’ repeatedly hit her in the head, stomped on her stomach, and dragged her by her hair. She also alleges that Combs’ offered her $50,000 to terminate a pregnancy when she became pregnant in 2014.
Aubrey O’Day, 2022
In a Dec. 2022 Call Her Daddy podcast episode former Danity Kane member and Making the Band star Aubrey O’Day implied that she was fired from the band for not following Combs’ sexual advances.
“I wasn’t willing to do what was expected of me, not talent-wise, but in other areas,” she said during the interview.
O’Day has continuously spoken out about Combs’ since leaving the group, citing the intensity of working with Combs and the sexism she experienced in the girl group, in a 2019 interview with Variety. In response to Cassie’s allegations, O’Day took to her Instagram story posting , “Been trynna tell y’all for years. Prayers up for this queen 🙌🏼 @cassie.”
Other notable moments:
This latest settlement highlights a history of allegations the mogul has faced as an aggressor spanning from the 1990s to now, even confirming rumors of a 2012 fight between Combs and Kid Cudi. Though men have also been at the receiving end of Combs’ alleged violence, here are some additional instances involving some of the women he’s dated.
Alleged abuse of Kim Porter
To this day, conspiracy theories claim that Combs’ was involved in the sudden death of his longtime on-and-off-again partner Kim Porter in 2018.
Porter’s ex, and father of their son Quincy, Al B. Sure also accused Combs’ of involvement in her death, which he called a murder, in a since-deleted Instagram video. The Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office officially declared Porter’s cause of death as lobar pneumonia in 2019. A June 2023 video posted by self-proclaimed psychic Sloan Bella has gone viral on Tik Tok in the aftermath of Cassie’s allegations, as it claimed that people would speak out against Combs in November 2023.
In October, Combs’ former bodyguard Gene Deal said in an interview that Porter cut Combs’ wrists with a corkscrew in self-defense, hitting an artery. He described the couple’s relationship as “volatile,” stating that Combs used intimidation to control Porter.
1999 NYC nightclub shooting
In her lawsuit, Cassie alleges that Combs forced her to carry his gun in her purse, to assert how powerful he was. Combs has a documented history of guns dating back to the 90s. In 1999, Combs was arrested on a weapons charge after a shooting at a New York City nightclub, according to MTV. After fleeing the scene, the couple was pulled over and police found a stolen gun in the car. Singer Jennifer Lopez, who was dating Combs at the time, also faced a weapons charge, though the district attorney dropped the charges against her shortly after.