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Sean Combs’s Lawyer Says Rap Mogul Faced ‘Unprecedented Ambush’

A lawyer for Sean Combs, the hip-hop mogul whose homes were raided by federal agents on Monday, called the searches “a gross overuse of military-level force” and criticized them as “nothing more than a witch hunt based on meritless accusations made in civil lawsuits.”

“There is no excuse for the excessive show of force and hostility exhibited by authorities or the way his children and employees were treated,” the lawyer, Aaron Dyer, said in a statement on Tuesday. “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.”

On Monday, armed agents from Homeland Security Investigations searched two of Mr. Combs’s homes in Los Angeles and Miami Beach, Fla. The authorities did not say whether Mr. Combs was a target or what criminal charges they were investigating. Video taken by a local television station in Los Angeles, Fox 11, showed armed officers entering a home in the exclusive Holmby Hills area of the city.

“This unprecedented ambush — paired with an advanced, coordinated media presence — leads to a premature rush to judgment of Mr. Combs,” Mr. Dyer said. “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.”

On the same day as those searches, federal agents also stopped Mr. Combs at an airport in the Miami area as he was preparing to leave with family members for the Bahamas, and took a number of electronic devices from Mr. Combs, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. Mr. Combs was not arrested, and remained in the United States, according to that person.

The raid was a striking development for Mr. Combs, who has been one of the highest-profile figures in the music industry for decades, credited with transforming hip-hop and R&B in the 1990s into a global business. He worked with stars like Mary J. Blige and the Notorious B.I.G., and as recently as last fall was being showered with industry accolades.

Videos and photographs from the raid that were broadcast by news organizations, and circulated widely on social media, showed agents apparently knocking down a door at Mr. Combs’s mansion and confiscating computers and other devices.

The investigation was led by prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, according to a law-enforcement official. Federal investigators in New York have been conducting interviews asking potential witnesses about sexual misconduct allegations against Mr. Combs for several months, according to a person familiar with the interviews.

The raid this week came after a series of civil lawsuits in recent months that have accused Mr. Combs, often in graphic and disturbing detail, of sexual assault. The first, in November, was filed by Casandra Ventura, known as Cassie, Mr. Combs’s former girlfriend and an artist once signed to his record label, Bad Boy. She alleged that in addition to rape and physical abuse, Mr. Combs forced her to have sex with male prostitutes in hotels across the United States over a period of years.

Ms. Ventura’s case was settled in just one day, with she and Mr. Combs both saying they had reached their agreement “amicably,” and a lawyer for Mr. Combs noting that the agreement was “in no way an admission of wrongdoing.”

Suits by three other women were filed in quick succession, each accusing Mr. Combs of sexual assault. And in February, a music producer filed another suit, saying that he had been sexually assaulted by Mr. Combs and forced to hire prostitutes and participate in sex acts with them.

In earlier statements, Mr. Combs and his lawyers have vehemently denied the allegations in those suits, saying they were filed by people looking for a “payday.” But the suits have made Mr. Combs a pariah in the music industry and put much of his wider business empire at risk.

Hamed Aleaziz contributed reporting from Washington, D.C.

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Amit Ghosh
Amit Ghosh


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