Sean Combs has come under fire from a former girlfriend, Cassandra “Cassie” Ventura, who has alleged sexual abuse, sexual battery, rape and creating a hostile work environment over a period of years.
In a 35-page filing Thursday in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York, which was first reported by The New York Times, Ventura claimed that the music mogul, fashion designer and start-up specialist physically abused her during their relationship.
The couple reportedly met in 2005, and Ventura, a R&B musician, signed a deal with Combs’ Bad Boy Records the following year. Ventura was said to have been involved with Combs until some point in 2018, and claimed that she was forced to take drugs, and was physically harmed.
Ben Brafman, an attorney for Combs, issued a statement Thursday afternoon denying the allegations. “Mr. Combs vehemently denies these offensive and outrageous allegations. Ms. Ventura’s demand of $30 million, under the threat of writing a damaging book about their relationship, 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’ reputation, and seeking a pay day,” the statement read.
In response to that claim, Ventura’s attorney Douglas Wigdor also issued a statement Thursday afternoon, attesting that Combs had offered 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 women who suffer in silence. Ms. Ventura should be applauded for her bravery.”
She is seeking an undisclosed money judgment for compensatory damages, lost wages, mental pain and anguish, and “severe emotional distress,” according to the filing.
Ventura said the nearing expiration of New York’s Adult Survivor Act, which gives survivors the chance to come forward to rectify their losses even if an attack occurred decades ago, was part of the impetus for taking action.
The look-back window for that legislation will end on Nov. 23. Until then, victims of abuse can continue to file civil charges on matters that have outrun the statute of limitations. Ventura said in a statement: “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. 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.”
Separately, leading former models like Carrie Otis, as well as the Model Alliance’s founder Sara Ziff, have been encouraging victims of sexual abuse to come forward before New York’s Adult Survivor Act runs its course.
“No human should have to endure what Ms. Ventura has endured. Her ability and willingness to speak up against the abuse she suffered, and seeking to hold accountable her abuser and those who enabled the abuse, is a testament to her strength and resilience. We are honored to represent this brave victim in her pursuit of justice,” her attorney’s statement said.