Diddy lawsuit: Cuba Gooding Jr. added as co-defendant


Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jr. has been named as a co-defendant in a lawsuit brought against embattled hip-hop mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs.

The lawsuit, which was brought in February by Diddy’s “Love Album” producer Rodney “Lil Rod” Jones, was amended Monday to list Gooding as a defendant, as well as to include a declaration from former Motown Records chief executive Ethiopia Habtemariam about technical license agreements and to insert additional evidence to the RICO and sex-trafficking section of the lawsuit, Jones’ lawyer Tyrone Blackburn confirmed Tuesday in an e-mail to The Times.

The second amended complaint was filed Monday, the same day that Homeland Security Investigations conducted bicoastal raids on mansions owned by Combs in Holmby Hills and Miami. Federal agents conducted the searches as part of an inquiry into sex trafficking allegations involving the hip-hop mogul and entrepreneur, law enforcement sources said. Aaron Dyer, an attorney for Combs, on Tuesday called the raid an “unprecedented ambush” that “leads to a premature rush to judgment of Mr. Combs and is nothing more than a witch hunt based on meritless accusations made in civil lawsuits.” Dyer added that Combs cooperated with authorities, “is innocent and will continue to fight every single day to clear his name.”

Blackburn, Jones’ attorney, said he has not been contacted by federal authorities regarding the Homeland Security investigation.

“Defendant Cuba Gooding, Jr. was a relevant actor who has fallen from grace due to several sexual assault lawsuits and a recent guilty plea for sexual assault,” said the complaint, which was obtained Tuesday by The Times. In it, Blackburn noted that his client — a Chicago-born producer, who produced nine songs on Diddy’s 2023 album — believed Combs “was grooming him to pass him off to his friends” and that “fear became reality” when Combs introduced him to Gooding on his yacht in January 2023.

Jones accused Gooding of fondling his “legs, upper inner thighs near his groin, the small of his back near his buttocks, and his shoulders,” which made the producer “extremely uncomfortable.” Although he allegedly rejected the actor’s advances, Gooding “did not stop until Mr. Jones forcibly pushed him away.”

“As the owner of the property, Mr. Combs had a duty to protect Mr. Jones from the harm he suffered at the hands of Cuba Gooding Jr. Mr. Combs breached his duty when he failed to stop Cuba Gooding Jr from sexually assaulting Mr. Jones,” the complaint said. “In furtherance of this breach, Mr. Combs encouraged Cuba Gooding Jr to continue his assault on Mr. Jones when he said that Cuba Gooding Jr should privately get to know Mr. Jones better. Mr. Jones has suffered immensely because of Mr. Combs’s intentional breach of his duty to him.”

Representatives for Gooding did not immediately respond Tuesday to The Times’ request for comment.

Gooding, 56, who has separately pleaded guilty to forcible touching and settled a rape lawsuit last year., was mentioned in Jones’ initial lawsuit — filed in U.S District Court for the Southern District of New York — with Jones alleging that he was sexually harassed and assaulted by the “Jerry Maguire” star.

The “American Horror Story” actor joins a list of co-defendants in the $30-million lawsuit that includes Combs, his son Justin Dior Combs, Universal Music Group chief executive Lucian Charles Grainge, UMG, former Motown Records executive Habtemariam and Motown Records, Love Records, Combs Global Enterprises, ABC Corporations, Diddy’s chief of staff Kristina “KK” Khorram and several John and Jane Does. That network of alleged involvement, Jones said, amounts to a violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).

In the 105-page complaint, Blackburn said that Jones’ “life has been detrimentally impacted ever since” he agreed to produce the album in August 2022. Jones alleged that he was “under an implied work-for-hire agreement” with Combs and lived with the recording giant for months at a time in Combs’ homes in Los Angeles, New York City and Miami, as well as several weeks on a yacht rented by Combs in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Jones, describing himself as a “heterosexual Christian man,” alleged in the lawsuit that he was “the victim of constant unsolicited and unauthorized groping and touching of his anus by Mr. Combs” and was “uncomfortable with Mr. Combs’ advances.” He expressed his complaints to Khorram, who allegedly told him “you know, Sean will be Sean” in response, the document said. Blackburn described Khorram as “the Ghislaine Maxwell to Sean Combs Jeffrey Epstein.”

Multi-instrumentalist Jones said that he had “secured irrefutable evidence” of illicit activity, including Combs providing laced alcoholic beverages to minors and sex workers at his homes and the rapper’s acquisition, use and distribution of ecstasy, cocaine, GHB, ketamine, marijuana and mushrooms, as well as displaying and distribution of unregistered illegal firearms. He also alleged that Combs gave him “strict instructions to inform the police that [Combs] had nothing to do with” a shooting at Chalice Recording Studio in Los Angeles on Sept. 12, 2022, even though Jones believed otherwise.

Jones also alleged that he was sexually assaulted by a cousin or assistant of rapper Yung Miami, who has dated Diddy and claimed that he obtained footage of a rapper and an R&B singer (whose names have been redacted from the complaint) consorting with underage girls and sex workers.

Britain’s Prince Harry was also mentioned in the complaint, as he had been when it was originally filed last month. Although no allegation of wrongdoing on his part was made, the prince was referred to in a section about why Grainge “ignored the numerous red flags about Mr. Combs … to receive financial benefits from Mr. Combs and his sex trafficking venture.” (Sex abuse and sex trafficking claims have dogged Combs over the past year, beginning with a November lawsuit brought by ex-girlfriend Casandra “Cassie” Ventura that was filed and settled within days.)

“Before Cassie Ventura’s lawsuit was filed, Mr. Combs was a popular and highly influential figure in the music industry to whom everyone wanted to connect. Mr. Combs was known for throwing the ‘best’ parties. Affiliation with and/or general business partnerships with Mr. Combs garnered legitimacy, immense success, and access to top and emerging artists, celebrities, famous athletes, political figures, musicians, and international dignitaries like British Royal and Prince Harry.”

Grainge, the complaint said, “knew first-hand the power, influence, and effect attaching themselves to Mr. Combs would have on their bottom-line and, as evidenced by their repeated general business partnership agreements … profited from their affiliation with Mr. Combs and their general business partnership, which came with unmonitored financing that may have supported his sex-trafficking enterprise.”

In a Tuesday statement to The Times, an attorney for Universal Music Group and Grainge characterized Jones’ complaint as “offensively reckless” and said Grainge has been “improperly dragged into this matter despite having no knowledge of, nor any involvement in, any of Mr. Combs’ alleged conduct.”

“Further, after we advised Plaintiff’s counsel of the offensive falsity of the absurd claims, instead of dismissing the claims, as they should have done, the plaintiff has now attempted to amend his claims against Sir Lucian, removing the original set of outrageous falsehoods related to Sir Lucian, replacing them with wholly contradictory new falsehoods that are equally absurd,” said Donald S. Zakarin of Los Angeles-based firm Pryor Cashman LLP. “Not only will we demonstrate the offensive falsity of these claims, but we will seek recovery of every penny of cost and damage caused by their assertion.”

Times staff writer Richard Winton contributed to this report.


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