Sean Combs Settled a Lawsuit, but His Troubles Were Just Beginning

It took just one day for Sean Combs to settle a bombshell lawsuit in November that accused him of rape and physical abuse. For a moment, it may have seemed that the hip-hop mogul’s lawyers had managed to quickly contain the reputational damage he faced.

But it turns out that Mr. Combs’s problems were only beginning.

For years, accusations of violence trailed Mr. Combs, who since the 1990s has been known as Puff Daddy and Diddy. The accusations had little impact, however, on his public persona as a raffish celebrity who was a fixture in gossip columns, a personal brand crystallized by the name of his music label: Bad Boy. But the suit in November, filed by his former girlfriend Casandra Ventura — who makes music as the singer Cassie — seemed to open the floodgates.

A string of other lawsuits followed, accusing him of various forms of sexual assault and misconduct. Mr. Combs, 54, has vehemently denied all the allegations, but the graphic and detailed complaint by Ms. Ventura — and the headlines that followed — changed that narrative to a degree that now imperils Mr. Combs’s business empire and has made him a pariah in the music industry. And a raid by federal authorities at two of his homes on Monday suggested that authorities are considering possible criminal charges.

Police officers blocked off the road during a raid of a home in Los Angeles tied to Mr. Combs on Monday.Credit…Jenna Schoenefeld for The New York Times

As the allegations against Mr. Combs have accumulated, his lucrative business dealings — which, besides music, have included fashion, two liquor brands, a cable television channel and an e-commerce platform — have been threatened. And the employee ranks at Combs Global, his company, are now a fraction of what they were less than a year ago.

A deal with the spirits giant Diageo was the source of much of Combs Global’s income and Mr. Combs’s wealth. But even before the recent accusations, there were signs that the collaboration was fraying. Mr. Combs sued Diageo last May, accusing the company of racism and failing to support a tequila brand they were partners in — allegations that Diageo denied in court papers. The suit was settled in January, after multiple sexual assault suits had been filed, with Diageo saying it had severed all ties with him.

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