Music mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs is facing a new legal challenge, as he is accused of drugging and sexually assaulting a college student in 1991. The lawsuit, filed by Joi Dickerson-Neal in Manhattan Supreme Court, comes just before the expiration of the New York State Adult Survivors Act.
According to court documents obtained by USA TODAY, Dickerson-Neal alleges that Combs drugged, sexually assaulted, and abused her, and engaged in “revenge porn” by videotaping the assault and distributing the tape within the music industry. This action, as stated by Dickerson-Neal’s attorney Jonathan Goldhirsch, caused significant damage to her reputation, career prospects, and emotional well-being.
The complaint indicates that the incident occurred when Combs, who was yet to release his debut album “No Way Out,” was a talent director at Uptown Records. Dickerson-Neal, then a Syracuse University student, recounts reluctantly agreeing to dinner with Combs during a holiday break in 1991. The suit claims that Combs drugged her drink and later sexually assaulted her at his home, recording the act on tape. This tape was allegedly shown to others, including Davante Swing, a member of the R&B group Jodeci.
In response to the allegations, a spokesperson for Combs denied the claims, labeling the lawsuit as a money grab and questioning the credibility of Dickerson-Neal’s story. Meanwhile, Michelle Caiola, another attorney representing Dickerson-Neal, emphasized the importance of holding Combs accountable, regardless of his wealth and public stature.
The lawsuit details Dickerson-Neal’s subsequent hospital admission for severe depression and suicidal thoughts, attributing her distress to the assault and its public exposure. The filing also alleges that Combs pursued Dickerson-Neal romantically and sexually after the incident, despite her rejections and warnings from others, including rapper Sister Soulja.
This legal action follows a separate lawsuit against Combs by singer Cassie, who accused him of rape, sex trafficking, and physical abuse. The lawsuit, which also named Combs’ companies, was settled amicably, with both parties issuing statements expressing their wishes for the future.
The lawsuit against Combs is part of a wave of sexual assault cases filed under New York’s Adult Survivors Act, providing a one-year window for victims to pursue legal action for incidents that would otherwise be time-barred. Goldhirsch noted the ongoing impact of Combs’ alleged actions on Dickerson-Neal and her decision to seek justice through this act.
The case adds to the list of recent high-profile sexual assault lawsuits involving celebrities like Jamie Foxx, Harve Pierre, Axl Rose, Jimmy Iovine, and Cuba Gooding Jr.
Survivors of sexual assault and individuals struggling with suicidal thoughts are encouraged to seek support through RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE & online.rainn.org) and the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 988lifeline.org.