Rapper P. Diddy Suspected of sex trafficking and rape: What We Know about the search and Investigation Targeting Sean Combs

Rapper P. Diddy Suspected of sex trafficking and rape: What We Know about the search and Investigation Targeting Sean Combs

Rapper P. Diddy Suspected of sex trafficking and rape: What We Know about the search and Investigation Targeting Sean Combs

Several of the rapper's homes were searched on Monday by federal agents. The investigation follows several complaints of rape and sexual assault against the American hip-hop star. Here's the lowdown.

Hip-hop star Sean Combs, better known as "Puff Daddy", but also "P. Diddy", or "Diddy", is under federal investigation for rape, sexual assault and sex trafficking.

What happened?

On Monday March 25, the rapper's residences in Miami and Los Angeles were raided by federal agents. Spectacular footage of the raid, filmed from the air, was broadcast live on American television. Armed police officers entered the billionaire's luxury properties. On the videos, the rapper's sons, Justin and King Combs, can be seen handcuffed.

Why did these raids take place?

The Department of Homeland Security had confirmed the searches, without giving a reason. They come at a time when Sean Combs is in the midst of legal turmoil, facing several complaints in connection with events dating back several decades in some cases, which describe him as a violent sexual predator capable of drugging his victims. According to CNN, citing a police source, the investigation is focused on suspicions of sex trafficking, which would explain the involvement of the Department of Homeland Security (HSI). The latter investigates "transnational crimes and threats, including human trafficking".

What are the charges?

In mid-November, Diddy's former partner, singer Cassie, was the first to file a civil suit against the rapper for rape and physical violence. Two days later, they announced an "amicable" settlement, the details of which were not disclosed. The singer's complaint accused the rapper of having engaged in "violent behavior" and "deviant demands" for "over a decade". She explained that she had been repeatedly beaten, and forced into filmed sex with male prostitutes.

Since then, two other women have lodged complaints. Joi Dickerson-Neal accused him of "drugging and sexually assaulting" her in 1992. She claims that he filmed the scene and distributed the video as "revenge porn", a practice of publicly revealing sexual images, usually non-consensual, to get back at someone.

In December, the rapper was also the target of a civil suit in New York accusing him of gang-raping a 17-year-old girl in 2003. In this case, Diddy is suspected of forcing the teenager to drink and drugging her, before forcing her to have sex, in the company of the president of his Bad Boy Records production company, Harve Pierre, and a third individual.

A fourth complaint concerns a former collaborator of the artist. Producer Rodney "Lil Rod" Jones accuses Diddy of sexual assault and harassment. The rapper's son Justin Combs, his chief of staff Kristina Khorram, Motown Records, and Universal Music Group are also on the list of defendants.

Since Cassie's complaint in the autumn, other testimonies have resurfaced. As a guest of host Howard Stern in 2016, singer Usher, recent headliner of the Superbowl halftime show, had recounted living in one of Diddy's residences between the ages of 13 and 14. "It was curious. I got to see certain things taking place," he confided at the time. "I don't even know if I could understand what I was seeing. It was pretty crazy."

How does the accused respond?

The 54-year-old rapper vigorously denies the accusations against him. His lawyer, Aaron Dyer, on Tuesday denounced a "witch hunt based on baseless accusations" and a "blatant excessive use of armed force" during the searches conducted on Monday.

Why wasn't the accused arrested?

Sean Combs was not at any of his residences at the time of Monday's police raid. The star was in a Miami airport and had a conversation with federal agents, but was not arrested, a police source told AFP. According to the New York Times, he was preparing to fly to the Bahamas but ended up staying in the United States. 
"Despite media speculation, neither Mr. Combs nor any of his family members have been arrested nor has their ability to travel been restricted in any way.” insisted his lawyer, denouncing "the way his children and employees have been treated."

On Monday evening, P. Diddy's private jet landed on the Caribbean island of Antigua, several media reported, but he was not on board. According to flight tracking data, the plane, christened "LoveAir", took off from an airport in Southern California.

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