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Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs sued by male producer who alleges sexual assault

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Originally Published: 27 FEB 24 15:25 ET

Updated: 28 MAR 24 17:21 ET

By Lisa Respers France and Elizabeth Wagmeister, CNN

(CNN) — A former employee of Sean “Diddy” Combs has filed a lawsuit against the producer and businessman, accusing him of sexual assault, sexual harassment and “grooming.”

Rodney “Lil Rod” Jones, a former producer and videographer for Combs, filed his civil complaint in New York federal court on Monday. He states he worked for and traveled with Combs between 2022 – 2023, while collaborating with Combs on his most recent album, “Love.”

Among other allegations, Jones claims that Combs did not compensate him for his music producing work, forced him to procure and interact with sex workers, threatened him and served alcoholic beverages laced with drugs to guests at parties at his homes. Combs’ chief of staff, Kristina Khorram; Universal Music Group CEO Sir Lucian Grainge; former Motown CEO Ethiopia Habtemariam; and Combs’ adult son, Justin, are also named as defendants.

Justin Combs is accused of soliciting prostitutes and underage girls to attend parties at his father’s homes. Khorram allegedly ordered prostitutes and illicit drugs for Combs and his guests and according to the lawsuit, Jones believed Khorram “aided and abetted” Combs’ sexual assault. Grainge and Habtemarian, according to the lawsuit, “sponsored and attended several” listening parties for the “Love” album at Combs’ Los Angeles home, and “knew or should have known that Mr. Combs was drugging the attendees through laced bottles of DeLeon Tequila, and Ciroc Vodka.” As sponsors of these events, the lawsuit states Grainge and Habtemarian “had a duty and obligation to ensure that sex workers and underaged girls were not present, and that Mr. Combs was not spiking the alcohol with date rape drugs.”

Jones is seeking $30 million.

Shawn Holley, Sean Combs’ attorney, denied the allegations in a statement to CNN, calling Jones “a liar.”

“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,” Holley said in the statement. “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 representative for Justin Combs told CNN in a statement: “Justin Combs categorically denies these absurd allegations. They are all lies! This is a 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.”

CNN has reached out to an attorney for Jones for comment on their statements. Representatives for Khorram, Grainge and Habtemariam were not immediately available for comment.

According to the complaint, obtained by CNN, Jones claims that “Throughout his time living with Mr. Combs, Mr. Jones was the victim of constant unsolicited and unauthorized groping and touching of his anus.”

When Jones raised concerns about the alleged harassment to Khorram, the lawsuit states she dismissed it as “friendly horseplay.”

Jones described Combs as “forceful and demanding” in the lawsuit, claiming that Combs displayed firearms, talked about getting away with shooting people, and intimidated Jones with his influence in the music industry.

As his videographer, Jones alleges that he “has secured HUNDREDS of hours of footage and audio recordings of Mr. Combs, his staff, and his guests engaging in serious illegal activity.”

Citing as an example of alleged grooming he experienced by Combs, Jones claims that Combs encouraged him to watch producer and reality TV personality Steven ‘Stevie J’ Jordan, someone who Combs allegedly knew Jones admired professionally, engage in sex with another man.

“This was done to ease Mr. Jones’ anxiety concerning homosexuality,” the suit alleges. “According to Mr. Combs, ‘this is a normal practice in the music industry, look even Stevie J is doing it.’”

Stevie J is not accused of wrongdoing and is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit. In a statement to CNN, he called Jones’ allegations “false.”

“My lawyer will be handling this going forward,” Stevie J added.

Jones also alleges in the suit that Combs is liable for a sexual assault he says he experienced by Oscar-winning actor Cuba Gooding, Jr., which allegedly took place “on a yacht rented by Mr. Combs in the US Virgin Islands in January 2023.”

“Mr. Combs was present while Mr. Jones was being assaulted by Cuba Gooding Jr.,” the suit alleges. “Mr. Jones was legally on the premises as a guest and invitee of Mr. Combs. Cuba Gooding Jr. was legally on the premises as a guest and invitee of Mr. Combs.”

Gooding, Jr. has not publicly commented on the complaint and his representatives have not yet returned CNN’s request for comment. He is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

In November 2023, Combs settled a suit brought by his former girlfriend, singer Casandra Ventura, who alleged she was raped and subjected to years of repeated physical and other abuses by Combs.

“A decision to settle a lawsuit, especially in 2023, is in no way an admission of wrongdoing,” Ben Brafman, an attorney for Combs, told CNN in a statement at the time. “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.”

Weeks later, at least two other civil lawsuits were filed against Combs with allegations of sexual assault.

“I have sat silently and watched people try to assassinate my character, destroy my reputation and my legacy,” Combs said in a statement in December. “Sickening allegations have been made against me by individuals looking for a quick payday. Let me be absolutely clear: I did not do any of the awful things being alleged. I will fight for my name, my family and for the truth.”

Editors note March 28, 2024:

Since this story originally published, Rodney Jones voluntarily dismissed the claims against Ethiopia Habtemariam with prejudice. 

Lucian Grainge, Motown Records and Universal Music Group have subsequently filed a motion to dismiss the case, calling the allegations against them false and fabricated .

In an amended complaint filed by attorneys for Jones in March, Jones no longer alleges that Grainge “sponsored and attended” listening parties or should have known Sean Combs was allegedly drugging attendees at his parties. 

Cuba Gooding Jr. was added as a defendant in the amended complaint. 

The-CNN-Wire
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Sean “Diddy” Combs

**This image is for use with this specific article only** Sean “Diddy” Combs, here at the Billboard Music Awards in 2022, is being sued for sexual assault, sexual harassment and “grooming.”

Jordan Strauss/Invision via AP via CNN Newsource

27 Feb 24

Sean Combs

**This image is for use with this specific article only** Sean “Diddy” Combs as host of the Billboard Music Awards in 2022.

Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP via CNN Newsource

27 Feb 24

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