By Steve Gorman
(Reuters) – Hip-hop star Sean “Diddy” Combs was accused in federal court on Wednesday of taking part in the gang rape of a 17-year-old girl in his Manhattan recording studio in 2003, marking the fourth lawsuit leveling sexual assault allegations against him in recent weeks.
Combs, 54, founder of the landmark label Bad Boy Records and a hugely successful rap performer, issued a statement on Wednesday categorically professing his innocence and declaring his accusers were “looking for a quick payday.”
The plaintiff in the latest lawsuit was identified as Jane Doe, described as a high school student at the time she met associates of Combs in a Detroit-area lounge 20 years ago.
The complaint says they flew her on a private jet from Michigan to the New York area, then drove her to the New York City studio where Combs and two other men plied her with drugs and alcohol.
According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff was then raped in a bathroom of the studio by Combs and the two other men, one after the other, as she slipped in and out of consciousness. It said Combs also watched one of the other assaults after he was finished.
She was later flown back to Michigan but had little recollection of her return trip to the Detroit suburbs, the lawsuit says.
As evidence to support her allegations, the lawsuit includes several photos allegedly depicting the accuser – her face intentionally blurred – posing inside Combs’ studio, including one in which she appears to be sitting on Combs lap, both of them facing the camera.
The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, said the plaintiff has since suffered “extreme emotional distress that has impacted nearly every aspect of her life and personal relationships.”
The lawsuit was filed under New York City’s Victims of Gender-Motivated Violence Protection Law, which was extended to allow accusers to sue over alleged offenses from long ago, even if statutes of limitations have expired.
Combs’ latest accuser said she chose to come forward after reading news accounts of the lawsuit brought against Combs last month by his ex-girlfriend Cassie Ventura, who performs under the stage name Cassie, accusing him of subjecting her to physical abuse, sex trafficking and rape over the course of a decade.
Ventura and Combs, who has formerly gone by such monikers as P. Diddy,” Puff Daddy and Diddy, announced the next day they had settled the case under confidential terms.
Combs’ lawyer, Ben Brafman, said then that the settlement was “in no way an admission of wrongdoing,” and that his client maintained his “flat-out denial” of Ventura’s claims.
But Combs was hit with two more lawsuits in a matter of days – one by a plaintiff named Joi Dickerson-Neal, who accused the rap mogul of drugging and sexually assaulting her while she was a student at Syracuse University in 1991. Another “Jane Doe” complaint accused him of forcing her and a friend into nonconsensual sex in the early 1990s.
He has denied those allegations.
“For the last couple of weeks, I have sat silently and watched people try to assassinate my character,” he wrote in his social media post on Wednesday. “Let me be absolutely clear: I did not do any of the awful things being alleged.”
One of the two other men alleged to have raped the plaintiff in Wednesday’s lawsuit was named in the complaint as Harve Pierre, a former top executive at Bad Boy. The third man was identified in the complaint only as the “Third Assailant.”
Pierre himself was accused in a separate lawsuit last month of using his position of authority at Bad Boy to groom and sexually assault a former assistant.
Neither Pierre nor any representatives could be reached for comment. A spokesperson for Bad Boy told People magazine last month the record label was “investigating the allegations.”
(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles)