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Diddy's downfall: Sean Combs' career looks bleak after leaked tape, entertainment lawyer says

Hannah Getahun   

Diddy's downfall: Sean Combs' career looks bleak after leaked tape, entertainment lawyer says
  • A newly leaked video appears to show Sean "Diddy" Combs assaulting Cassie Ventura in 2016.
  • An attorney says Combs' subsequent apology won't mitigate any legal consequences.

A "smoking gun" video of Sean "Diddy" Combs could help plaintiffs in other civil suits against him bolster their cases, an entertainment lawyer told Business Insider.

On Friday, CNN published 2016 surveillance footage that appeared to show the Grammy-Award-winning producer assaulting his then-girlfriend, Cassie Ventura, at the now closed InterContinental Hotel in Los Angeles.

In the video, a man appearing to be Combs shoved, dragged, kicked, and threw an object toward Ventura in the hotel hallway. The video corroborates a similar incident detailed in Ventura's November lawsuit against the hip-hop mogul.

The two parties settled the lawsuit a day after it was filed, the Associated Press reported. In a previous statement to BI, a lawyer for Combs said Diddy denied the allegations made in the suit and accused Ventura of trying to "blackmail" him.

In a video posted to his official Instagram account on Sunday, Combs apologized for his actions — though he didn't specify which actions he was apologizing for, nor did he mention Ventura's name. In his apology, he called his actions "inexcusable" and said he sought therapy.

Camron Dowlatshahi, an attorney at Mills Sadat Dowlat LLP, told BI the apology was an attempt to "humanize" Combs but wouldn't save him.

Meredith Firetog, a partner at Wigdor LLP who's an attorney for Ventura, shared a similar sentiment.

"Combs' most recent statement is more about himself than the many people he has hurt," Firetog said in a statement to BI. "When Cassie and multiple other women came forward, he denied everything and suggested that his victims were looking for a payday. That he was only compelled to 'apologize' once his repeated denials were proven false shows his pathetic desperation, and no one will be swayed by his disingenuous words."

'His career is effectively done'

Ventura alleged in her November suit that Combs paid the defunct hotel $50,000 to obtain the surveillance footage.

Dowlatshahi said that this type of arrangement was common in Hollywood but that "it certainly doesn't look good selling off a video where someone's getting assaulted."

IHG, the parent company of InterContinental Hotels, said in a statement to BI that the hotel was "no longer under IHG management" and that the company didn't have "any access to prior incident records or footage."

Dowlatshahi said it was unlikely Ventura leaked the video to CNN because of her settlement with Combs, adding that it may have been a former hotel employee or someone in Combs' camp.

Regardless of how the video surfaced, Dowlatshahi said it was a game changer for his other accusers. Combs is facing four sexual-misconduct suits.

The lawsuits come from a former employee and three women who accuse Diddy of sexual assault, abuse, drugging, and other acts of sexual misconduct. One woman said Combs "sex trafficked and gang raped" her as a 17-year-old in 2003.

Dowlatshahi said that plaintiffs in civil suits against Combs would most likely try to submit the video as evidence to prove the music mogul has a "propensity for violence" and that should the cases go to trial, prospective jurors could be swayed by the video.

"It's rare to have smoking-gun evidence in those types of cases, and this video is a form of smoking-gun evidence with respect to Diddy's propensity for violence," Dowlatshahi said.

Following a Department of Homeland Security raid on his Miami and Los Angeles homes, multiple outlets, including CNN, reported that federal authorities had also opened up an investigation in connection to the allegations made against Combs.

Dowlatshahi said Diddy couldn't be indicted in connection to his actions in 2016 because of the statute of limitations on felony assault and domestic-violence charges. He also said, however, that the emergence of the video would probably result in investigators trying to uncover similar incriminating footage at other hotels Diddy previously stayed at.

From the perspective of Combs' defense, Dowlatshahi said Combs' lawyers would probably try to settle the cases and advise Combs to cooperate with authorities.

"His career is effectively done," Dowlatshahi said.

Representatives for Combs declined to comment.

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