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Sean 'Diddy' Combs is accused of sexual assault in new lawsuit

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

A new lawsuit accuses music mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs of sexual assault. It's the latest case in a growing number of claims against the musician and record executive. Combs had previously been denying all allegations, but he's recently changed his story. Sidney Madden from NPR Music joins us now. Sidney, what's this latest lawsuit about?

SIDNEY MADDEN, BYLINE: Well, this latest lawsuit was filed in New York on Tuesday. Crystal McKinney, a former model, is alleging that after meeting Diddy at a fashion event in 2003, he invited her to a studio session where he coerced her into drinking and smoking and then forced her to perform oral sex on him. She says she lost consciousness after that, and then woke up later in a taxi, and this completely derailed her modeling career and threw her into a very severe depression. So for that, she's suing for an undisclosed amount of damages.

MARTÍNEZ: All right. Now, how many legal problems does Combs face now?

MADDEN: This is now the sixth assault lawsuit filed against Combs since last November. Last fall, Cassie Ventura, who was Diddy's former longtime girlfriend - she filed a lawsuit that really opened up the floodgates for others to come forward with their claims of abuse. Then, in March of this year, two of Diddy's homes were raided by the Department of Homeland Security in connection to a federal investigation. And then just a few days ago, video footage was released of Combs physically assaulting Cassie in 2016. And in that surveillance video, you can see Combs chasing Cassie down a hotel hallway, hitting her, kicking her, and throwing her to the ground. And this video corroborates claims that Ventura made in her filing last November.

MARTÍNEZ: Yeah, that video was brutal. It was absolutely brutal to watch. What has Combs said about it?

MADDEN: Well, when the video footage became public on Friday, two days later, Combs posted an apology video on his Instagram account, admitting that it was him in the video, saying he was sorry and that he was disgusted with his own actions in the video. And this is a major development because up until that video leaked, Combs had denied all of the allegations that had been made against him.

MARTÍNEZ: Yeah. Now, with all of these accusations, this video and his public apology, what's been the fallout for Combs so far?

MADDEN: Yeah. Since the lawsuit and everything, this has really had a snowball effect when it comes to tarnishing his reputation. So companies that have worked with Diddy for a long time have started to distance themselves. Diageo Spirits, which is the alcohol company he worked with for several years - they've severed business ties. He's stepped down as the chairman of his media company, Revolt Media. And rapper and TV exec 50 Cent - he claims to be making a multi-part documentary about all these allegations and the fallout, and it's called "Diddy Do It?" So overall, public perception has really shifted around Combs.

MARTÍNEZ: Sidney, you cover music for NPR. I mean, have - has what we've known now about Sean "Diddy" Combs - has that tainted his music legacy so far? I mean, he's in so many classic great songs in the past.

MADDEN: That's a good question. And I think it's still a question that's really out in the jury in terms of public perception. Like you said, he's connected to some of the greatest hip-hop hits, but it's hard to sever his entire catalog with everything that's going on. But in terms of his own hits that he's helmed as a - as the main artist on them, yeah, it's not really being added to the playlist these days.

MARTÍNEZ: Yeah, that's NPR Music's Sidney Madden. Sidney, thanks.

MADDEN: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF PETE ROCK'S "SMOOTH SAILING")

MARTÍNEZ: Cassie Ventura issued a statement this morning expressing her gratitude for the support she has received. She also hopes that people will start believing victims of domestic violence the first time they speak out.

(SOUNDBITE OF PETE ROCK'S "SMOOTH SAILING") 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.
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