The Scandal Surrounding US Rapper P. Diddy

P. Diddy was once one of the world’s best-known rappers, but serious allegations are casting some very dark shadows on him and his business empire. Amongst other things, he is suspected of having lured women (and under-age girls) to his home, plied them with drugs and sexually abused them. Several lawsuits have been submitted against in recent months. Homeland Security stormed his home in a raid at the end of March.

P. Diddy, also known as Puff Daddy, is the stage name of Sean Combs. Combs was an important figure in the music industry in the 1990s and early noughties, not just in hip-hop, but also as a music producer. At the beginning of 2020, he founded a record label, Bad Boy Records, which grew into a multi-million dollar empire.

It all began in November last year, when ex-girlfriend and singer Cassie submitted a civil lawsuit against Combs at the Federal Court in New York. He was said to have sexually abused him during their relationship by raping her, and forcing her to have sex with other men. When she got to know Combs in 2005, she was 19 and he was 37. The lawsuit claimed Combs controlled almost every aspect of her life, from her career to having access to her personal medical files. She claimed he had frequently been violent, and had given her drugs. Although Combs and his ex-girlfriend settled relatively quickly, and the lawsuit was dropped, the case made huge waves.

Since that time, three more women and one man have submitted lawsuits against Combs, accusing him of committing a wide range of types of abuse, including sexual harassment, rape, non-consensual distribution of pornography, and human trafficking.

One woman said that Combs had her flown to New York by private jet in 2003, when she was 17 years old, where he and two other men gave her drugs and alcohol and raped her. In a lawsuit submitted in February, the music producer Rodney Jones Jr. claimed Combs had held him by the genitals without his consent and forced him “to recruit sex workers and perform sexual acts for the pleasure of Mr. Combs.” Combs was said to have put drugs in the drinks of his female, often under-age, “guests”.

The situation escalated on 25 March when federal agents from Homeland Security searched Combs’ properties in Miami and Los Angeles. Several media reported that the raids took place as part of a nationwide investigation of human trafficking, beginning in New York.

On the day after the raid, Combs’ lawyer published a statement, in which he emphasised that his client was innocent, and “would fight every single day to clear his name”. Sean Combs has disputed all the accusations of his plaintiffs. “I’ve looked on silently as people have tried to assassinate my character, my reputation and destroy my honour”, he said in December. “Awful allegations have been made against me, by people who are looking for a quick payday. Let me be absolutely clear about this: I did not do any of the terrible things that are being claimed.”

The case of P. Diddy would not have got moving without the Me-Too movement, which began in 2017 in Hollywood. Even if allegations of sexual assault and harassment no longer make daily headlines, the lawsuits against Combs show that “Me Too” is still having a lasting effect. We can only hope that the times when the “Bad Boys” of Hollywood and the music industry were able to exploit their positions of power without consequences, for the foreseeable future, at least, are over.

Translated by Tim Lywood

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