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A look at the allegations against Sean "Diddy" Combs


Last month, hip-hop mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs was accused of years of abuse by his ex-girlfriend Cassandra Ventura, better known as the singer Cassie. In a civil suit filing, Ventura alleged that Combs spent years emotionally and physically abusing her, subjecting her to human trafficking, coercion, even raping her. Diddy publicly denied all allegations, and he quickly settled out of court. But since then, more women have come forward with similar allegations against Combs. NPR music correspondent Sidney Madden has been following all of this. Hi there.


SUMMERS: So first of all, let's just rewind and go back to when these allegations first broke. I mean, they really shocked people, right?

MADDEN: Yeah. This was big breaking news for a few key reasons inside and outside the hip-hop world. First of all, it has to do with the severity of the charges. The suit that Cassie filed against him was over 30 pages long, alleging decades of abuse - very detailed. Then it has to do with the level of Diddy's stature in hip-hop and just the music world in general. He's always been seen as a symbol of relentless hustle, someone who has a major business acumen in the industry - an industry leader, you would say. And then Cassie is one of his longest-running public relationships and one of his artists on Bad Boy Entertainment. So to hear about this dark underbelly of their relationship really shocked a lot of casual fans who've seen them on the red carpet for years.

SUMMERS: Right. And as we mentioned, this is a story that did not end with Cassie. More women have filed civil suits against Diddy, and I'll note here that the details there are disturbing and graphic.

MADDEN: Yeah, absolutely. To date, there have been four suits filed against Diddy, dating back to the very beginning of his career in the record industry in the early '90s. Some of the victims who filed are alleging that they were drugged and coerced into having sex, that they were videotaped - a lot of really awful, graphic allegations. And all of these filings so far have happened in New York, most of them under the Adult Survivors Act, which is a bill that was passed to allow victims to have a one-year lookback window to be able to file a civil case against their abuser, regardless of the statute of limitations.

SUMMERS: And, Sidney, there have been other high-profile cases against music megastars in recent years. R. Kelly notably comes to mind here. But this situation - what makes it different?

MADDEN: First of all, so far, all of these cases are civil, not criminal, so Diddy is not facing any jail time. But more implicitly, a lot of the young women who accused R. Kelly over the years were a lot of underage Black girls who were not famous, versus Cassie, who - she's not only famous. She's famously been his partner for years. And I think it also has to do with the character of Sean "Diddy" Combs in general. Diddy has also had a track record of being abusive and violent towards men. He's fought with his sons' coaches before. He's fought rappers like Drake before and other music executives. There have even been viral videos of him busting up his own office. So it's not very far-fetched for people to believe that he could be abusive to women in his life.

SUMMERS: I want to just step back here and look at this big picture. What do you think this moment means for the hip-hop industry?

MADDEN: I think it's still early to tell if this is going to be a overall cultural reckoning in hip-hop, but we definitely are living through a historical moment. As for repercussions, Diddy so far has temporarily stepped down as the chairman of Revolt, which is his media company. A lot of women and survivor advocates groups have released statements and petitions calling on the Grammys to rescind his 2024 nomination and his invite to the ceremony. And Rolling Stone reported that 18 of the companies that were previously working with him on his e-commerce site, called Empower Global, that they've severed business completely. So this definitely is a crucial moment for those in his inner and outer circles deciding on their level of proximity and attachment to him going forward.

SUMMERS: NPR music correspondent Sidney Madden. Thank you.

MADDEN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Sidney Madden is a reporter and editor for NPR Music. As someone who always gravitated towards the artforms of music, prose and dance to communicate, Madden entered the world of music journalism as a means to authentically marry her passions and platform marginalized voices who do the same.