Diddy assault video cements fall of hip-hop icon

CCTV video footage confirmed what many people in the music industry knew was brewing: a moment of reckoning for one of the most influential hip-hop artists in history.

The clips of Sean “Diddy” Combs kicking his former girlfriend Cassie Ventura – as she lay motionless on the floor – cemented his downfall, despite his apology after the leak.

“I don’t see a path for him to come back from this,” said Amy DuBois Barnett, the former editor-in-chief of Ebony magazine, who has written about hip-hop culture.

Combs’ reputation in the industry had been “chequered for some time,” added Barnett. “Many people were aware of his pretty unbridled temper.”

Combs – formerly known as P Diddy, Puff Daddy or Puffy – is one of the best-selling and most acclaimed artists of all time, with three Grammy Awards and millions of record sales to his name.

For years, nothing really affected his rise to icon status as an artist, producer and businessman. There were negative stories in the industry, said Barnett, but much of it stayed out of the public eye.

Last November, Ms Ventura settled a lawsuit against Combs – in which she accused him of rape and sexual trafficking – for an undisclosed sum. But Combs’ lawyer said the settlement was “in no way an admission of wrongdoing”.

Celebrities continued to voice support for him, but that ended with the CCTV video obtained by CNN and published last week.

The assault shown in the footage is brutal. After kicking Ms Ventura like a football, Combs, wearing just a towel, is seen dragging her across the floor.

The video appears to be a compilation of surveillance footage angles dated 5 March 2016, which CNN said was filmed at the InterContinental Hotel in Century City, Los Angeles. In her lawsuit, Ms Ventura had described a March 2016 incident at that hotel, in which Combs allegedly attacked her.

A string of other lawsuits have since been brought against Combs for abuse, sexual misconduct and rape. When they were filed, the rapper called the accusations “sickening” and said the alleged victims were looking for “a quick pay day”.

But the video of the assault on Ms Ventura undermined his denials.

Combs was silent for two days after its release, before posting an apology to Instagram, admitting it was him in the tape and calling his actions “inexcusable”.

“I was disgusted then when I did it,” he said, “and I’m disgusted now.”

“I went and I sought out professional help,” he continued. “I got into going to therapy, going to rehab. I had to ask God for his mercy and grace. I’m so sorry.”

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