Entertainment

Sean (Diddy) Combs residences searched in connection with sex trafficking investigation

WARNING: This article contains graphic content and may affect those who have experienced​ ​​​sexual violence or know someone affected by it.

Two properties belonging to music mogul Sean (Diddy) Combs in Los Angeles and Miami were searched Monday by federal Homeland Security Investigations agents and other law enforcement as part of an ongoing sex trafficking investigation by federal authorities in New York, two law enforcement officials told The Associated Press.

It’s not clear whether Combs was the target of the investigation. The officials were not authorized to publicly discuss details of the investigation and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

In a statement, Homeland Security Investigations said it “executed law enforcement actions as part of an ongoing investigation, with assistance from HSI Los Angeles, HSI Miami, and our local law enforcement partners.”

A spokesperson for the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan declined to comment.

Messages to Combs’s lawyers and other representatives seeking comment were not immediately returned.

Law enforcement rides a vehicle near a property belonging to Combs on Monday in Los Angeles. (Eric Thayer/The Associated Press)

A police line was set up around the Los Angeles house in the wealthy Holmby Hills neighborhood near Beverly Hills. Helicopter video from KABC-TV showed a group of agents with vests that indicated they were from Homeland Security Investigations gathered in the home’s backyard near the pool. A command post was set up outside the house and agents were still entering and leaving hours after the search began.

There have been several sexual assault lawsuits filed against Combs in recent months.

In February a music producer filed a lawsuit alleging Combs coerced him to solicit prostitutes and pressured him to have sex with them. Combs’s attorney Shawn Holley has said of those allegations that “we have overwhelming, indisputable proof that his claims are complete lies.”

Combs’s former protege and girlfriend, the R&B singer Cassie, sued him in November alleging years of sexual abuse, including rape. The lawsuit said he forced her to have sex with male prostitutes while he filmed them. The suit was settled the day after it was filed.

Another of Combs’s accusers was a woman who said the rap producer raped her two decades ago when she was 17.

The Associated Press does not typically name people who say they have been sexually abused unless they come forward publicly as Cassie did.

Combs had said in a December statement, “I did not do any of the awful things being alleged.”

Douglas Wigdor, an attorney who represents Cassie and another woman who sued Combs, said in a statement Monday, “Hopefully, this is the beginning of a process that will hold Mr. Combs responsible for his depraved conduct.”

It is not clear whether the search is related to any of the allegations raised in the lawsuits.

WATCH | Authorities raid properties belonging to Sean (Diddy) Combs: 

Authorities raid Sean Combs’s Miami and L.A. properties

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security carried out searches of Miami and Los Angeles homes belonging to rapper and producer Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs on Monday.

Hip-hop empire

Combs is among the most influential hip-hop producers and executives of the past three decades. Formerly known as Puff Daddy, he built one of hip hop’s biggest empires, blazing a trail with several entities attached to his famous name. He is the founder of Bad Boy Records and a three-time Grammy winner who has worked with a slew of top-tier artists including Notorious B.I.G., Mary J. Blige, Usher, Lil Kim, Faith Evans and 112.

Combs created the fashion clothing line Sean John, launched the Revolt TV channel with a focus on music and produced the reality show Making the Band for MTV.

A man wearing a red shirt and pants holds his hand up while singing into a microphone onstage.
Combs performs onstage during the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards at Prudential Center in September in Newark, New Jersey. (Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

His latest album, The Love Album: Off the Grid, was released last year, days after Combs was honoured at the MTV Video Music Awards. It was nominated for best progressive R&B album at February’s Grammy Awards, which the rapper-mogul did not attend.

The entertainment industry has been beset with a steady stream of career-ending sexual misconduct allegations in the years since stories about movie mogul Harvey Weinstein spawned the #MeToo movement in 2017. Weinstein and That ’70s Show star Danny Masterson are each serving prison sentences after rape convictions. Dozens of civil lawsuits have been filed against prominent figures.

The music industry has not faced a reckoning to the same degree, but singer and producer R. Kelly is serving a prison sentence for sexually abusing young fans, seven women have sued hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons alleging he raped them and two women have sued Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler alleging sexual assault.

Weinstein, Masterson and Kelly are appealing their convictions, and Simmons has denied all of the allegations against him. One lawsuit against Tyler has been dismissed and he is contesting the other.

For anyone who has been sexually assaulted, there is support available through crisis lines and local support services via this Government of Canada website or the Ending Violence Association of Canada database. ​​If you’re in immediate danger or fear for your safety or that of others around you, please call 911.

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