Sean 'Diddy' Combs' lawyer says rapper subject to 'witch hunt'

Credit: REUTERS/Carlin Stiehl

By Lisa Richwine

LOS ANGELES, March 26 (Reuters) - A lawyer for music mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs said Tuesday the rapper was being targeted by a "witch hunt" after civil lawsuits accused him of sexual misconduct and federal authorities raided two of his properties.

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said it had opened an investigation into hip-hop star Combs and searched his homes in the Miami area and in Los Angeles.

Aaron Dyer, an attorney for Combs, called the raids "a gross overuse of military-level force."

Local television images on Monday showed an armored vehicle and officers carrying rifles outside Combs' Los Angeles home. Authorities detained some people at the property with their hands bound by zip ties.

Combs cooperated with authorities, Dyer said, and neither he nor any family members have been arrested or had their travel restricted.

"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," Dyer added.

The Homeland Security department has not said what it is investigating with regard to Combs and did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Dyer's remarks.

In a civil lawsuit filed in Manhattan in mid-November, R&B vocalist Cassandra Ventura accused Combs of subjecting her to physical abuse, sexual slavery and rape during a 10-year professional and romantic relationship.

The lawsuit cited violations of sex trafficking and human trafficking statutes. Ventura and Combs, who has used such monikers as P. Diddy, Puff Daddy and Diddy, settled the case under confidential terms. Representatives for Combs said at the time the settlement was "in no way an admission of wrongdoing".

The lawsuit was one of at least four civil complaints in recent months leveling sexual assault allegations against Combs.

"There has been no finding of criminal or civil liability with any of these allegations," Dyer said on Tuesday. "Mr. Combs is innocent and will continue to fight every single day to clear his name."

Combs, founder of the landmark label Bad Boy Records, is one of the most influential producers and executives in hip-hop and a hugely successful performer, as well as the impresario of his own Sean John clothing line.

(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

((lisa.richwine@thomsonreuters.com; Follow me on Twitter @LARichwine; 1-424-434-7324; Reuters Messaging: lisa.richwine.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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