Diddy responds to raids at LA, Miami homes; electronics seized by Homeland Security agents

ByEric Resendiz KABC logo
Wednesday, March 27, 2024
Sean 'Diddy' Combs' lawyer calls federal raid 'witch hunt'
An attorney for Sean "Diddy" Combs said the federal accusations against his client are "meritless" and he has not been arrested.

LOS ANGELES -- Federal agents with Homeland Security Investigations seized a number of electronic devices as part of the court-authorized searches of Sean "Diddy" Combs' two properties, law enforcement sources told ABC News.

The searches, carried out in Los Angeles and Miami, were part of a federal sex trafficking investigation into the hip-hop and liquor mogul, the sources said.

HSI agents flooded Diddy's mansion in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Holmby Hills and gathered evidence as part of the investigation.

Four women have filed civil lawsuits against Combs accusing him of rape, sex trafficking and other alleged abuses. He has denied all allegations of sexual misconduct.

Several women have spoken with federal prosecutors in Manhattan, the sources said, who dispatched agents to try and gather evidence to corroborate their accounts.

In a statement to ABC News on Monday, an HSI spokesperson said the searches were executed "as part of an ongoing investigation" by HSI Los Angeles, HSI Miami and local law enforcement.

Law enforcement sources familiar with the matter said the searches were carried out at Combs' properties as part of a federal investigation led by the Southern District of New York into alleged human trafficking.

Sean "Diddy" Combs and singer Cassie said that they've settled a lawsuit containing allegations of beatings and abuse by the powerful music producer one day after it was filed.

No criminal charges have been filed in the investigation.

Combs' sons were detained outside his Westside L.A. home while the search warrant was being executed, as is customary in such circumstances, law enforcement sources said.

Combs' representation released a statement Tuesday afternoon, saying: "Yesterday, there was a gross overuse of military-level force as search warrants were executed at Mr. Combs' residences. There is no excuse for the excessive show of force and hostility exhibited by authorities or the way his children and employees were treated. Mr. Combs was never detained but spoke to and cooperated with authorities. Despite media speculation, neither Mr. Combs nor any of his family members have been arrested nor has their ability to travel been restricted in any way. This unprecedented ambush -- paired with an advanced, coordinated media presence -- 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. There has been no finding of criminal or civil liability with any of these allegations. Mr. Combs is innocent and will continue to fight every single day to clear his name."

Combs is among the most influential hip-hop producers and executives of the past three decades. Formerly known as Puff Daddy, he built one of hip-hop's biggest empires, blazing a trail with several entities attached to his famous name. He is the founder of Bad Boy Records and a three-time Grammy winner who has worked with a slew of top-tier artists including Notorious B.I.G., Mary J. Blige, Usher, Lil Kim, Faith Evans and 112.

Combs created the fashion clothing line Sean John, launched the Revolt TV channel with a focus on music, and produced the reality show "Making the Band" for MTV.

His latest album, "The Love Album - Off the Grid," was released last year days after Combs was honored at the MTV VMAs. It was nominated for best progressive R&B album at February's Grammy Awards, which the rapper-mogul did not attend.

Five lawsuits alleged sexual misconduct

Combs has been accused of sexual misconduct in five separate lawsuits filed in recent months - allegations the star has repeatedly denied. It is unclear which allegations are included in the federal probe.

In November, singer Casandra "Cassie" Ventura filed a lawsuit against Combs, her former boyfriend, in federal court in New York's Southern District. The suit alleged alleged Combs raped her, forced her to engage in sex trafficking and subjected her to years of other abuses. The two parties settled the suit days later.

The decision to settle the suit was "in no way an admission of wrongdoing," Ben Brafman, an attorney for Combs, told CNN in a statement at the time. "Mr. Combs' decision to settle the lawsuit does not in any way undermine his flat-out denial of the claims. He is happy they got to a mutual settlement and wishes Ms. Ventura the best."

A week later, Joi Dickerson-Neal filed a suit in New York accusing Combs of drugging and sexually assaulting her in 1991. She also alleged she was a victim of "revenge porn" by the music artist.

In December, an anonymous woman referred to as Jane Doe filed a federal lawsuit accusing Combs of sex trafficking and gang rape in 2003, when she was 17.

In court filings, Combs formally denied the allegations made in the December suit. He told the court the lawsuit should be dismissed because the woman's "decision to wait more than two decades to file her complaint has prejudiced" him because he has "lost the ability to defend himself fully and fairly." He also argued the evidence may now be "unavailable, lost, or compromised" and that "witness identification, availability, and recollections are likely compromised due to the substantial passage of time."

Further, one of Combs' former employees, producer and videographer Rodney "Lil Rod" Jones, filed a lawsuit last month accusing Combs of sexual assault and leading a "widespread and dangerous criminal sex trafficking organization," among other allegations. The suit was filed in federal court in New York's southern district.

Combs' attorney denied the allegations and called Jones' claims "lies."

"His reckless name-dropping about events that are pure fiction and simply did not happen is nothing more than a transparent attempt to garner headlines. We have overwhelming, indisputable proof that his claims are complete lies," Diddy's attorney, Shawn Holley, said last month.

Additionally, in an amended complaint on March 12, initially filed in New York in November, Liza Gardner accused Combs and singer Aaron Hall of battery and sexual assault in 1990, when she was 16 years old.

According to the suit, Gardner and a friend met Combs and Hall, at the time a member of the R&B group Guy, at an event. At a dinner afterward, Combs and Hall were "very flirtatious and handsy" with Gardner and her friend and offered them drinks throughout the night, despite being underage, the suit states.

Combs and Hall then invited the two to Hall's apartment for an afterparty, at which point Gardner was "offered more drinks and was physically forced into having sex with Combs against her will." She was "shocked and traumatized," the suit states, and as she was getting dressed, Hall came into the room, pinned her down and forced her to have sex. She then got dressed and ran out of the apartment, the suit states.

The next day, an "irate" Combs came to the home where she and her friend were staying and "began assaulting and choking Ms. Gardner to the point that she passed out," the lawsuit states.

CNN has reached out to Hall for comment. He has not yet publicly spoken about the allegations.

In a December statement, Combs denied the claims in all the suits.

"Enough is enough. For the last couple of weeks, I have sat silently and watched people try to assassinate my character, destroy my reputation and my legacy," Combs said. "Sickening allegations have been made against me by individuals looking for a quick payday. 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."

Several of the lawsuits allege that the misconduct was captured on video.

In Ventura's suit, she said Combs used his phone, laptop and tablet to film their sexual interactions. In Dickerson-Neal's suit, she alleged she was a victim of "revenge porn," saying Combs filmed her sexual assault and showed the video to others. And in Jones' suit, he alleged he has "hundreds of hours of footage and audio recordings of Mr. Combs, his staff, and his guests engaging in serious illegal activity."

CNN, ABC News and the Associated Press contributed to this report.