Music

Sean Combs Sued by Music Producer for Sexual Assault, Sex Trafficking in Sprawling Complaint

A music producer who says he worked on Sean “Diddy” Combs‘ 2023 album The Love Album: Off the Grid is accusing the hip-hop mogul of sexual assault and harassment, sex trafficking and various other forms of misconduct in a sprawling lawsuit filed Monday (Feb. 26).

In the complaint, filed by plaintiff Rodney “Lil Rod” Jones Jr. in New York federal court, the producer accuses Combs of “groping and touching” his anus and trying to groom him into engaging in sexual acts with Combs and other individuals, including Love Album producer Steven Aaron Jordan (a.k.a. Stevie J) and a cousin of Combs’ ex-girlfriend Yung Miami (named as a Jane Doe defendant). He also claims that Combs “forced” him to “solicit sex workers,” some of whom were underage, as well as to “perform sex acts to the pleasure of Mr. Combs.”

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In one alleged incident from February 2023, Jones claims he woke up “naked, dizzy, and confused” in a “bed with two sex workers and Mr. Combs” at Combs’ home in Miami and “believes” he was drugged by Combs.

The lawsuit, filed by attorney Tyrone Blackburn, names several more defendants whom Jones claims conspired with Combs in an alleged “RICO enterprise” to enable his misconduct: Universal Music Group (UMG), its subsidiary Motown Records, Combs’ label imprint Love Records, UMG chairman/CEO Lucian Grainge, former Motown CEO/chairwoman Ethiopia Habtemariam; Combs’ chief of staff, Kristina Khorram; and Combs’ son, Justin Combs. Federal RICO cases, which are based on the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act traditionally used to target the mafia and drug cartels, are brought to more effectively sweep up members of alleged crime rings. (Notably, the ongoing Georgia criminal case against Young Thug that alleges the rapper ran a violent Atlanta street gang is based on a Georgia statute modeled off of the federal RICO law.)

In this case, Jones claims the “RICO enterprise” in question was set up to recruit sex workers, some of them underage, and to acquire and distribute drugs and guns out of Combs’ Miami home. He accuses the participants in the alleged enterprise of keeping him under their control by threatening him with violence, ostracism from the music industry and nonpayment for work on the album, which he says he still has not been compensated for despite having allegedly produced nine tracks.

The lawsuit also brings up an alleged September 2022 incident at Chalice Recording Studio in Hollywood, during a writing and producing camp for The Love Album, that allegedly resulted in a man being shot in the stomach following a “heated conversation” between Combs, his son Justin Combs and another unnamed man. Following the incident, Jones claims Combs forced him to lie to police by telling them the man was injured in a drive-by shooting outside. Jones is suing Combs, UMG, Motown, Love Records and Chalice Recording Studio for providing “inadequate or negligent security” during the camp.

In a statement sent to Billboard, Combs’ attorney Shawn Holley said: “Lil Rod is nothing more than a liar who filed a $30 billion lawsuit shamelessly looking for an undeserved payday. His reckless name-dropping about events that are pure fiction and simply did not happen is nothing more than a transparent attempt to garner headlines. We have overwhelming, indisputable proof that his claims are complete lies. Our attempts to share this proof with Mr. Jones’ attorney, Tyrone Blackburn, have been ignored, as Mr. Blackburn refuses to return our calls. We will address these outlandish allegations in court and take all appropriate action against those who make them.”

A spokesperson for Justin Combs sent the following statement: “Justin Combs categorically denies these absurd allegations. They are all lies! This is a clear example of a desperate person taking desperate measures in hopes of a pay day. There will be legal consequences for all defamatory statements made about the Combs family.”

Representatives for UMG, Motown, Love Records, Grainge and Chalice Recording Studio did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Habtemariam could not be located for comment at press time.

Jones is asking for damages for loss of past and future income as well as “mental anguish, humiliation, embarrassment, stress and anxiety, emotional pain and suffering, and emotional distress”; punitive damages; and the costs of bringing the suit.

The Love Album was originally announced in May 2022 as a release on Combs’ newly formed imprint Love Records, to be released in tandem with UMG’s Motown. However, the album — which featured a laundry list of stars including Mary J. Blige, Burna Boy, John Legend, Justin Bieber and The Weeknd — was ultimately released independently in September 2023.

Jones’ lawsuit is just the latest in a string of legal accusations to be lodged against Combs over the past several months. In November, Combs’ longtime girlfriend, R&B singer Cassie, sued him for rape and physical abuse, though the case was promptly settled. He was subsequently sued by two more women for sexual assault and later by a Jane Doe who claimed Combs “sex trafficked” and “gang raped” her when she was 17. Combs has denied all of the allegations.

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