Within 24 hours of reports of sexual abuse allegations being waged against the music and fashion mogul Sean Combs by a former girlfriend, Cassandra “Cassie” Ventura, both parties have agreed to a settlement.
In a complaint filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York, Ventura claimed she had suffered from sexual abuse, sexual battery, rape and a hostile work environment, among other allegations, during her 13-year involvement with Combs. In the 25-page filing, she said the pair met in 2005, when she was 19 and he was 37. As an aspiring R&B singer at that time, she signed a deal with Combs’ Bad Boy Records. The pair were said to have been romantically involved until some point in 2018.
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Both parties released statements late Friday night revealing that an agreement had been reached. Ventura said, “I have decided to resolve this matter amicably on terms that I have some level of control. I want to thank my family, fans and lawyers for their unwavering support.”
In the joint statement, Combs echoed that and said, “We have decided to resolve this matter amicably. I wish Cassie and her family all the best.”
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Ventura’s attorney Douglas Wigdor and Combs’ attorney Benjamin Brafman did not respond immediately to requests for further comment Saturday morning.
However, Brafman issued the following statement later Saturday, “Just so we’re clear, a decision to settle a lawsuit, especially in 2023, is in no way an admission of wrongdoing. Mr. Combs‘ decision to settle the lawsuit does not in any way undermine his flat-out denial of the claims. He is happy they got to a mutual settlement and wishes Ms. Ventura the best.”
In response to Ventura’s filing Thursday, Brafman claimed Ventura had previously asked for $30 million from Combs or she planned to write a book about their relationship. Brafman said that request had been rejected and suggested that it was “blatant blackmail.”
The controversy was widely reported by many global news organizations. In addition to being a major force in the music industry, Combs has multiple other businesses and investments in different categories, including in fashion. As his fame burgeoned in the early ’90s, he was among the first musicians to pursue multiple business ventures. Ventura, whose modeling days included a turn in one of Naomi Campbell’s “Fashion for Relief” runway shows, is now more widely known as a musician.
The recent controversy included accusations by Ventura of her having been forced to take “copious” amounts of drugs, perform voyeuristic sex acts and having been subject to Combs’ controlling behavior.
Regarding the filing, Ventura said initially that “after years of silence,” she had decided to tell her story. She also said one of the reasons she went public was due to New York’s Adult Survivor’s Act, legislation that was approved last year and allows victims of abuse to file civil charges on matters even after the statute of limitations have run out. The look back window on that legislation will expire Thursday.
Approximately one-third of women worldwide will face sexual violence or physical violence by a partner at some point of their lives, according to Harvard University research released in February. In the lead-up to the look back window of the New York Survivor’s Act expiring, the Model Alliance founder Sara Ziff and former model Carrie Otis are among those, who have encouraged victims to take action.
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