A California woman has filed a lawsuit alleging that Sean 'Diddy' Combs drugged and sexually assaulted her three decades ago when she was a student. The legal complaint was filed at the Manhattan Supreme Court on Thursday, just days after Combs, 54, settled similar allegations made in a lawsuit by his former girlfriend, R&B singer Cassie Ventura.
Joi Dickerson-Neal said she was a psychology student at Syracuse University in 1991 when she encountered Sean 'Diddy' Combs who then sexually assaulted her. The woman alleges that Combs sexually assaulted her after a dinner date at Wells Restaurant in Harlem. A spokesperson for Diddy denied the claims calling it a "money grab."
More Sexual Assault Allegations
Dickerson-Neal alleges that Sean 'Diddy' Combs pressured her into a date and then surreptitiously drugged her drink. According to her claims, he subsequently took her to an apartment where he sexually assaulted her, and filmed the incident.
She claims that Combs widely circulated the video, and she was told by DeVante Swing, a member of the R&B group Jodeci, that the footage had been seen by "everyone."
Dickerson-Neal contends that the traumatic encounter led her to drop out of college, preventing her from completing her degree and abandoning her aspirations in the music industry.
In her lawsuit, she is seeking unspecified damages.
The lawsuit highlights the contrast in the trajectories of Combs and Dickerson-Neal in the years following the alleged incident.
While the Grammy winner achieved significant fame and success in his career, Dickerson-Neal contends that she struggled to move forward, attempting to "block his existence out as she tried to put her life back on track."
"Still today, Ms. Dickerson continues to work on her emotional health, economic recovery and finishing her college degree. Seeking accountability from Combs under the law is one more step in that journey," the court filing reads.
Dickerson-Neal, in her lawsuit, claims that at the time she met Diddy, she was "whip-smart, beautiful, and aware that her good reputation was an important asset to be safeguarded."
During this period, Diddy, born in Harlem, served as a talent director at Uptown Records. He collaborated with artists such as Mary J. Blige and Jodeci. In 1993, he went on to establish Bad Boy Records, contributing to his eventual billion-dollar fortune.
According to Dickerson-Neal, she and Combs had mutual friends and acquaintances, and she had even made a brief appearance in one of his music videos.
Dickerson-Neal alleges that Combs pressured her into a date, and on January 3, 1991, she agreed to meet him at the restaurant where she worked, Wells'. She claims that Combs had already gained a reputation for womanizing, and Sister Soulja, a rapper from the Bronx, warned her to exercise caution.
Joi Dickerson-Neal claims that she chose the restaurant because she was familiar with the staff and felt safe there. However, she alleges that Combs slipped something into her drink, causing her to feel disoriented as they left.
They then went to a recording studio and then to an apartment. While in the car, she claims that he pressured her to smoke marijuana with him.
According to Dickerson-Neal, she passed out at the apartment and woke up the next morning, unaware of the exact events but experiencing pain and a profound sense of shame.
She said that she did not report the incident to the police but confided in her best friend.
"Shortly thereafter, Davante Swing, a member of R&B group Jodeci, told Plaintiff that Combs had filmed himself sexually assaulting Plaintiff and had shown the video to Swing and others while working at the studio," the court documents allege.
"Plaintiff asked Swing who had seen the video, and he replied: 'Everyone."
Dickerson-Neal states that following the alleged assault, she became reclusive and suffered from "an inability to focus and concentrate," as her mind incessantly replayed the traumatic event involving Combs. This, in turn, resulted in a significant decline in her academic performance, with her grades plummeting.
Joi Dickerson-Neal's case has been filed under the Adult Survivors Act, a New York law that grants victims of sexual abuse a one-year window to file a civil lawsuit, even if the usual statute of limitations has expired. The deadline for filing cases under this statute was Thursday.
In her court documents, Dickerson-Neal revealed that she was inspired to come forward by Diddy's ex-girlfriend, Cassie, who filed a federal lawsuit on November 16, accusing him of rape and a decade-long pattern of abuse that began when she was 19 years old.
Cassie's lawsuit, also filed under the Adult Survivors Act, was settled out of court with Diddy just one day after it was submitted.