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Tiffany Red says Diddy should be held accountable for his treatment of her friend Cassie

Last month, the singer Cassie filed a federal lawsuit accusing her ex-boyfriend, the music mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs, of physical abuse, rape and sex trafficking during their nearly 10-year relationship. 

The two settled for an undisclosed amount of money just 24 hours after Cassie, whose full name is Cassandra Ventura, filed the lawsuit. Following the settlement, Combs said that he “wishes Ventura nothing but the best,” while his attorney, Ben Brafman, said the settlement was “not an admission of wrongdoing.”

The singer/songwriter Tiffany Red, one of Ventura’s longtime friends, told NBC News in an exclusive interview that aired Wednesday on NBC News’ “Top Story with Tom Llamas” that Diddy should be held accountable for his treatment of the singer. 

“I think a lot of people, especially in the Black community, I’ve seen the narrative of like, they just trying to take a black man down, and it’s just like, that’s not what this is about. This is about accountability and a reckoning. That’s just the bottom line,” Red said.

Red recently wrote an open letter in Rolling Stone recalling the verbal abuse she says she witnessed her friend endure. Red said that while working with Ventura on new music, they became friends and part of her inner circle, giving her a glimpse into the toxic dynamic between Diddy and Ventura. 

“I remember him [Diddy] calling her like over and over and over and I was in the car with her … and then she finally answered the phone. … It was on speakerphone and that was the first time I ever heard him screaming. He just was like, ‘B—-, what are you doing?’ She kept like hanging up because he was screaming, and he was like, ‘Ah, don’t you hang up on me!’ And he kept threatening to take her car,” Red said.

A few months before Ventura filed her lawsuit, Red said Ventura opened up to her and revealed she had suffered more than just verbal abuse. Ventura told Red about the “freak offs” that she detailed last month in her lawsuit. 

Cassie Ventura, left, and Tiffany Red.Courtesy Tiffany Red

“[She told me] that he would hire these like sex workers and like they would have, you know, sex with her and he would watch and tell them what to do. And she said that she didn’t want to do it and she would talk about like being sick and throwing up because she would be like nervous about all of it.”

One of these alleged freak offs took place on the night of Ventura’s 29th birthday party in 2015. After a day of celebrating and a night of karaoke with friends, Red says that Ventura told her during their conversation a few months ago that Diddy forced her to take part in a freak off that night. 

In her letter, Red recounted an incident from that night, writing that Diddy showed up at Ventura’s home, where Red was staying, screaming about how she wouldn’t have sex with him. 

“I found this out this year, that he made her have a freak off that night, which is why I decided to come forward because I just was like, You scream that in my face. … I saw it. I was there.”

But Red says Ventura revealed a horrific detail to her in their recent conversation. 

“She told me the only time he was willing to do anything or work on her music … was when she had a freak off,” Red said. “To find out that like I spent all these years writing these songs for him to rape my friend to is just disgusting to think about,” she added.

Although Red did not witness any of the alleged physical abuse, she says Ventura, in their recent conversation, accused Diddy of giving her a black eye in March 2016, just a few days before the premiere of her movie “The Perfect Match.”

“She told me that she had a black eye under her makeup like on the red carpet,” Red said.

A lawyer for Combs did not respond to a request for comment, and Ventura’s lawyer declined to comment. 

Ventura referred to an incident in her lawsuit in which she alleges Combs punched her, causing a black eye.

Red says she’s speaking out to validate her friend’s claims and also because she believes Combs is a “dangerous” person.

“I don’t think people understand what it’s like to be traumatized by somebody famous and rich, because you can’t get away from them,” she added.

Diddy has faced several lawsuits over a career spanning four decades as a rapper, producer and mogul, according to court documents reviewed by NBC News. Of the lawsuits that had known outcomes that were reviewed, three included allegations of violence. Two were settled, including Ventura’s lawsuit against Combs, and in the third a jury found in favor of Combs. 

Cassie Ventura and Sean "Diddy" Combs at the Met Gala in New York City
Cassie Ventura and Sean “Diddy” Combs at the Met Gala in New York City, on May 7, 2018. John Shearer / Getty Images file

Combs has faced many civil cases over the years and he’s been arrested three times since 1999. His arrest in 2015 on suspicion of attacking his son’s football coach at UCLA with a kettlebell resulted in prosecutors’ declining to pursue charges. In 1999, he was accused of beating rival record executive Steve Stoute, but the Manhattan District Attorney’s office dropped the charges. Also in 1999, he was acquitted of weapons and bribery charges.

Combs rose to fame in the ’90s as a producer turned rapper, eventually creating Bad Boy Records with a roster of artists signed to his label like Faith Evans, Lil’ Kim and, before his death, the Notorious B.I.G. Diddy went on to have a string of hits, win three Grammy awards, launch a fashion line and even made a splash in the world of reality TV with MTV’s “Making the Band” in 2002. Last year,  he reached billionaire status with the bulk of his fortune coming from his vodka brand Ciroc, Deleón tequila and the Revolt TV Network. 

But since Ventura’s allegations surfaced and the filing of three other lawsuits against Combs, Hulu scrapped a reality series about his family and the Recording Academy said they are considering whether to rescind his invitation to this year’s Grammys. Last month, he temporarily stepped aside as chairman of Revolt.

On Dec. 6 Diddy denied the allegations in a statement.

“For the last couple of weeks, I have sat silently and watched people try to assassinate my character, destroy my reputation and my legacy,” he said. 

He added: “Let me be absolutely clear: I did not do any of the awful things being alleged. I will fight for my name, my family and for the truth.”

In 2022, Diddy was recognized with the BET Lifetime Achievement Award, and this year he received the Global Icon Award at the MTV Video Music Awards. Fans have a hard time separating Diddy’s public and private selves.

“I think I just want people to understand that like, everything you see is not real. … Just because he called himself Love and wrote a book and made a bunch of love songs with some of the most incredible songwriters and producers in the game, doesn’t mean that that’s what he stands for,” Red said. 

Red has turned her trauma into activism, starting a nonprofit called the Hundred Percenters.

“We advocate for fair pay and fair treatment of music creators,” she said. “In 2020, [we] actually advocated for all of the major publishers to update their publishing deals because they needed to be modernized. … We’re actually about to get our second round of funding to songwriters, and also, we have been working on an initiative for sexual violence, called the Safe Music Business Pledge.”

Red said she wants Diddy to face retribution for the alleged treatment of Ventura and others.

“I think justice looks like Diddy being behind bars. And I also think that justice looks like everybody getting retribution for all of the things, the amount of therapy, like I just said, all of the moments, the time, like these are our careers,” Red said.

After Ventura’s lawsuit was filed last month, the NYPD told NBC News that it had no active investigation into Combs.

Along with facing criminal accountability, Red says she hopes Diddy “can get the help he needs.”

“I hope that he gets to a place where he can really look himself in the mirror and see it clearly,” Red said.

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