Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs Faces New Allegations of Sexual Assault

The musician, designer and producer Sean Combs is facing a $30 million lawsuit filed by Rodney “Lil Rod” Jones, claiming sexual assault, harassment and not being compensated for work.

The two men had worked together for what was said to be about 14 months starting in the fall of 2022 on Combs’ “The Love Album: Off the Grid.” During that time, they produced nine songs for the album, according to Monday’s 73-page filing in New York federal court.

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Combs has faced a series of legal disputes in recent months. Three women have sued him for sexual abuse, and a fourth, Cassandra “Cassie” Ventura, a model, singer and former girlfriend of Combs, settled a lawsuit with him about 24 hours after filing it last year.

In a statement issued Monday, an attorney for Combs, Shawn Holley, a partner at Kinsella Holley Iser Kump Steinsapir, or KHIKS, dismissed the allegations, describing Jones as “nothing more than a liar who filed a $30 million 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.”

The statement continued, “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.”

An associate for Blackburn said he was not immediately available Tuesday morning. He did not acknowledge a media request in the afternoon.

Holley and representatives for KHIKS did not respond to inquiries about counter legal actions or business implications.

In 2022, Forbes estimated that Combs’ net worth was estimated to be approximately $1 billion. Combs’ multiple business pursuits include the clothing label Sean John, which he debuted in 1998. Along with Jay-Z and Damon Dash, he was among the entrepreneurial musicians who developed revenue streams beyond the music industry in the ’90s. However, last year Macy’s “phased out” the Sean John label. The homepage of the apparel company’s site now simply features its signature logo and the tag line “I got my name back.”

KHIKS is known for dealing with high-profile clients, as is Holley, whose early years as a Los Angeles County public defender led to working with lawyer Johnnie Cochran as part of O.J. Simpson’s legal team in 1994-95. Her career has also been reimagined for mainstream entertainment — she is a producer of Hulu’s “Reasonable Doubt,” which is said to be loosely based on her career.

Combs’ plans to acquire two Black-owned cannabis companies for a reported $175 million fell through last summer, as did an offer to acquire Paramount Global’s BET network. “Love Album: Off the Grid” – Combs’ first album release in 17 years and one that features Justin Bieber and The Wknd among others — was nominated for “Best Progressive R&B Album” for this year’s Grammy awards.

Susan Scafidi, founder and president of the Fashion Law Institute, said there is always a danger, when a designer or someone intrinsically associated with a label “falls from favor or is accused of something horrible, whether that be fraud, tax evasion or sexual harassment.” She said that [may] become a label that “we don’t want to associate with.”

How we dress each morning is a form of self-fashioning that presents to the world “who we are, what we represent, who we support and whom we’d like to be affiliated with and who is part of our tribe,” she said.

The allegations against Diddy won’t matter with his hardcore fans and some will probably not believe the claims. However, Scafidi said if a brand’s or designer’s reputation is “tarnished,” that can’t help but have at least a temporary effect on the business. But if the suits are settled or fall out of the news cycle, consumers — many of whom have short memory (or attention) spans — tend to move on.

John Galliano has regained his fashion mantle at Maison Margiela following racist and antisemitic outbursts in 2011, Scafidi said. And Marchesa is no longer maligned by convicted sex offender Harvey Weinstein’s reputation, she said. (His ex-wife Georgina Chapman cofounded the designer label.) Acknowledging how Adidas recently released existing Yeezy products, Scafidi said, “For better or worse, we are not a moralistic industry. We have a history of forgiving all sins, if someone makes us look good.”

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