the law

Cassie’s Lawsuit Against Diddy, Explained

Cassie sued Diddy for a decade-long pattern of abuse. Photo-Illustration: Vulture ; Photos: Getty Images

Cassie sued Diddy in federal court on November 16, accusing the hip-hop mainstay of rape and a decade-long pattern of abuse that began when she was 19 years old. The R&B singer, who was once signed to Diddy’s label, Bad Boy Records, alleges sex trafficking, human trafficking, sexual battery, sexual assault, and gender-motivated violence, among other causes of action. The filing claims his controlling behavior started when she met him in 2005. After she signed a deal with Diddy’s record label the following year, he allegedly exerted complete control over her life, including her apartment, car, clothing, and even her medical records, to keep her under his thumb. According to the lawsuit, he went so far as targeting rapper Kid Cudi, who briefly dated Cassie in 2011 during a rough patch in Diddy and Cassie’s relationship, she alleges. Just one day after Cassie filed the lawsuit, she settled with Diddy out of court. Below, everything to know about the lawsuit, the settlement, and the music industry’s response.

What was Diddy accused of in the lawsuit?

The lawsuit alleges several instances of abuse committed by Diddy, including rape, battery, and forced sex acts with male sex workers. In the filing, Cassie depicts the mogul, head of her former label and then–romantic partner, as a textbook abuser — luring her into what she first perceived as a fatherly, protective relationship, only to find herself in an unequal, and violent, sexual relationship. Diddy successfully kept her under his thumb through his alleged intimidation tactics, which consisted of blowing up a man’s car, dangling a friend over a 17th-floor balcony, and asking her to carry his gun in her purse. She never went to the police out of fear that it “would merely give Mr. Combs another excuse to hurt her.” Diddy denied the allegations.

“Cassie — Ms. Casandra Ventura — was held down by Mr. Combs and endured over a decade of his violent behavior and disturbed demands,” the lawsuit reads. “For Ms. Ventura, the ‘dark times’ were those she spent trapped by Mr. Combs in a cycle of abuse, violence, and sex trafficking.” Diddy first expressed romantic interest in Cassie in 2006, the lawsuit claims, when his makeup artist mentioned that he was “interested.” Soon after, the young star is said to have been drawn into his jet-setting, drug-fueled lifestyle.

Once they entered a romantic relationship, Diddy and his inner circle allegedly controlled every aspect of her life. The lawsuit claims those close to the founder of Bad Boy Records turned a blind eye to physical abuse. “Beatings were witnessed by Mr. Combs’ staff and employees,” the suit read, “but no one dared to speak up against their frightening and ferocious boss.” Cassie said she never went to the police for fear that it would give Diddy “an excuse to hurt her.” In one instance of abuse in 2009, he allegedly kicked her repeatedly in the face, making her bleed, and had his staff hide her in a hotel room. “Every time she hid, Mr. Combs’s vast network of corporations and affiliated entities found her, and those who worked for Mr. Combs’s companies implored her to return to him,” the filing stated. “Many went as far as to explicitly state that her failure to return to Mr. Combs would hinder her success in the entertainment industry.”

According to the suit, Cassie suffered memory loss from copious substance use and suicidal ideation during her relationship with Diddy. The court papers cite an instance in which MRI results went directly to Diddy.

The suit named Diddy, whose real name is Sean Combs, and his associated business entities — Bad Boy Entertainment, Bad Boy Records, Epic Records, Combs Enterprises, and Doe Corps — pointing to a widespread complicity in the allegations. Cassie sought an unspecified amount in compensatory damages.

Elsewhere in the filing, Cassie alleged Diddy forced her to take part in “freak offs,” or an arrangement in which she had no choice but to plan and engage in sex acts with male sex workers while he masturbated. The encounters continued for years in high-end hotels across the country and sometimes occurred as often as once a week, the lawsuit read. Diddy took photos and filmed the encounters. Cassie would delete videos shot on her phone to no avail — once, she was forced to watch footage on a flight that she thought she had gotten rid of.

Following an “FO” in 2016, he allegedly paid a hotel $50,000 to erase hallway surveillance footage of an intoxicated Diddy throwing glass vases at Cassie when she tried to escape after he gave her a black eye. She would take copious amounts of drugs “to disassociate during these horrific encounters,” including “ecstasy, cocaine, GHB, ketamine, marijuana, and alcohol in excessive amounts.” The excessive substance use led to addiction, Cassie said.

The lawsuit suggested Diddy blew up Kid Cudi’s car in 2012 in retaliation for the “Up Up & Away” rapper’s brief relationship with Cassie. Diddy once said he would target him. “Around that time,” the suit says, “Kid Cudi’s car exploded in his driveway.” In a statement through his spokesperson, Cudi confirmed Cassie’s account. “This is all true,” he told the New York Times.

Diddy forced his way into her home and raped her in 2018, according to the filing, while she “repeatedly said ‘no’ and tried to push him away.” Following the incident, Cassie left him for good. She ended her association with Bad Boy in 2019.

What do we know about the settlement?

The two parties did not disclose terms of the settlement, which came just one day after Cassie filed the lawsuit. “We have decided to resolve this matter amicably,” Diddy said in a statement on November 18. “I wish Cassie and her family all the best. Love.” By reaching an agreement out of court, Diddy avoided new, likely damaging evidence being made available during the process of legal discovery. “Just so we’re clear, a decision to settle a lawsuit, especially in 2023, is in no way an admission of wrongdoing,” Ben Brafman, a lawyer for Diddy, said in a statement on November 20. “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.”

Cassie’s civil suit was brought under the Adult Survivors Act, a New York law that gives victims of sexual abuse, who were 18 or older at the time of the alleged abuse, a one-year window to bring cases in New York after any statutes of limitations have expired. The window closes next week. “With the expiration of New York’s Adult Survivors Act fast approaching,” Cassie told the Times on November 16, “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.” Cassie’s filing mentions the law as well: “Thanks to the passage [of the act in New York and California], she is now ready and able to also confront her abuser, and to hold him and those who enabled his abuse accountable for their actions.”

How has the music industry reacted?

Kesha changed the lyrics of her chart-topping 2009 hit “Tik Tok” seemingly in response to the allegations, per USA Today. The song originally opens with the line “Wake up in the morning feeling like P. Diddy.” In her performance on November 19, however, the song began, “Wake up in the morning feeling like me.” 50 Cent commented on the settlement in a now-deleted Instagram post, insinuating that Diddy is not yet in the clear, Complex reported. “He paid that money real quick, should have done that before the sharks saw the blood in the water and here they come in 5,4,3,2,1 every woman he put his hand on,” he wrote on November 18.

Former Danity Kane member Aubrey O’Day responded to the allegations on November 16. She expressed support for Cassie, tweeting she’s been “trying to tell y’all.” She attached screenshots of news headlines about the lawsuit. Danity Kane was formed by Diddy on MTV’s Making the Band in 2005. O’Day’s former bandmate, Dawn Richard, also shared a message of support for Cassie. “Praying for Cassie and her family, for peace and healing,” Richard tweeted that same day. “You are beautiful and brave. ❤️.”

What other allegations has Diddy faced?

After Cassie’s lawsuit came to light, a 2019 interview with Virginia V resurfaced, detailing alleged instances of physical abuse. In a conversation with the controversial internet personality Tasha K, Diddy’s ex-girlfriend accused the CEO of once “stomping” on her stomach, “punching” her, and trying to pay her to abort their child. “He stomped on my stomach really hard — like, took the wind out of my breath,” Virginia V, whose real name is Gina Huynh, claimed. “I couldn’t breathe. He kept hitting me. I was pleading to him, ‘Can you just stop? I can’t breathe.’” She added that “everyone” around Diddy “allowed” the abuse to occur. “He was mentally, emotionally and physically abusing me. He would always compare me to Cassie and tell me that I’m the bad one, she’s a good one,” she remembered.

Diddy’s former personal chef, Cindy Ruela, filed a lawsuit against him in 2017, claiming sexual harassment, failure to pay overtime, and retaliation. Ruela alleged Diddy would regularly ask her to serve food to him and his friends “immediately following sexual activity.” The men would be naked during the “post-coital” meals, according to the lawsuit, with Diddy once asking if she liked his body. He settled the lawsuit with Ruela in 2019. No terms were divulged.

On the Thanksgiving weekend of 2023, Combs received two separate lawsuits accusing him of sexual assault. The first comes from a former Syracuse University college student who accuses him of drugging and sexually assaulting the victim, filming the act, and showing it as a form of “revenge porn,” writes Rolling Stone. The second one accuses him and singer-songwriter Aaron Hall of alleged rape and assault against the plaintiff and her friend in 1990 or 1991. Days after Combs reportedly sexually assaulted the victim, he went back to her place of residence and violently attacked them, reports Rolling Stone.

In the years prior, Diddy allegedly assaulted his son’s football coach in 2015, was rumored to have fought Cudi at a club in 2012, and was sued for ordering a promoter’s assault in 2007. In the ’90s, he pleaded guilty to a reduced assault charge after he attacked the president of Interscope Records with “a chair, a telephone and a champagne bottle” over a “blasphemous” Nas video that includes a scene of two men crucified. The judge sentenced him to one day in an anger-management program.

Has Diddy said anything since settling with Cassie?

Diddy has lay low since he settled with Cassie, but that didn’t stop paparazzi from snapping a picture of him with his longtime chief of staff on November 18, according to TMZ. He appears solemn, sitting in his backyard with his head in his hands.

Cassie’s Lawsuit Against Diddy, Explained