Authorities searched Diddy’s properties as part of a sex trafficking probe. Here’s what to know

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LOS ANGELES — In the first nine months of 2023, Sean “Diddy” Combs triumphantly performed at the MTV VMAs, released an R&B album that garnered a Grammy nomination and was a suitor to buy the BET network.

But several lawsuits filed late last year raised allegations of sexual assault and rape against Combs — one of hip-hop’s most recognizable names as a performer and producer.

The music mogul’s homes in Los Angeles and Miami were searched Monday by federal agents with Homeland Security Investigators and other law enforcement. Officials said the searches were connected to an investigation by federal authorities in New York.

The officials spoke to The Associated Press on conditions of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss details of the investigation. Combs’ attorney and other representatives didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, and his whereabouts are unknown.

Although Diddy was embroiled in one high-profile business dispute for part of 2023, it was a case filed by his former girlfriend and R&B singer Cassie that opened the door to other claims of sexual violence. Combs has vehemently denied the allegations.

It is not clear whether the search is related to any of the allegations raised in the lawsuits, which include one from a woman who claims Combs raped her when she was 17.

Here are some things to know about Combs and the investigation.

Combs is among the most influential hip-hop producers and executives of the past three decades. He built one of music’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.

The music mogul created the fashion clothing line called Sean John, was associated with a well-known vodka brand and launched Revolt TV network, which focuses on music and social justice issues targeting African Americans. He also produced the reality show “Making the Band” for MTV.

In 2022, BET honored Combs with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his ability to shape culture through his career.

Combs won Grammys for his platinum-selling 1997 album “No Way Out” and the single “I’ll Be Missing You,” a song dedicated to the late Notorious B.I.G. who was killed earlier that year. He won another Grammy for “Shake Ya Tailfeather” with Nelly and Murphy Lee.

Last year, Combs released his fifth studio album “The Love Album: Off the Grid,” which was nominated for best progressive R&B album at February’s Grammy Awards, which he did not attend. The album was his first solo project since his 2006 chart-topping “Press Play,” which had two top 10 hit singles: “Last Night” with Keyshia Cole and “Come to Me” featuring Nicole Scherzinger.

In 2004, Combs played Walter Lee Younger in the Broadway revival of “A Raisin in the Sun,” which aired as a television adaption four years later. He’s also appeared in films including “Get Him to the Greek” and “Monster’s Ball.”

In November, Combs’ protege and singer Cassie sued him for alleging years of sexual abuse including rape. The lawsuit alleged he forced her to have sex with male prostitutes while he filmed them.

Combs and Ventura began dating in 2007 and had an on-and-off relationship for more than a decade.

The suit was settled the day after it was filed, but the lawsuits against Combs kept coming against.

Combs had said in a December statement, “I did not do any of the awful things being alleged.”

In February, a music producer filed a lawsuit alleging Combs coerced him to solicit prostitutes and pressured him to have sex with them. Combs’ attorney Shawn Holley has said of those allegations that “we have overwhelming, indisputable proof that his claims are complete lies.”

Another of Combs’ accusers was a woman who said the rap producer raped her two decades ago when she was 17.

The filings detail acts of sexual assault, beatings and forced drugging allegedly committed in the early 1990s by Combs, then a talent director, party promoter and rising figure in New York City’s hip-hop community.

Last year, Combs stepped down as chairman of his cable television network Revolt amid the sexual abuse allegations against him.

Revolt announced Combs’ decision via social media. It’s not clear if he will ever return to the media company — which said Combs previously had “no operational or day-to-day role” at the network.

“This decision helps to ensure that Revolt remains steadfastly focused on our mission to create meaningful content for the culture and amplify the voices of all Black people throughout this country and African diaspora,” the network said.

The network had been preparing to celebrate its 10th anniversary.

Combs also created an online marketplace called Empower Global that featured Black-owned brands. The website for the curated marketplace is still active, but shows no products being sold.

Earlier this year, Combs withdrew the lawsuit filed last year against Diageo as part of a settlement with the London-based spirits giant.

Combs said the company didn’t make promised investments in Ciroc vodka and DeLeon tequila — two brands Combs promoted in the past — and treated them as inferior “urban” products. He also accused Diageo of racism.

In court filings, Combs said Diageo leadership told him race was one of the reasons it limited distribution to “urban” neighborhoods. Combs said he was also told some Diageo leaders resented him for making too much money.

In legal filings, Diageo accused Combs of resorting to “false and reckless” allegations “in an effort to extract additional billions” from the company.

Combs’ reputation took a serious hit after the lawsuit was filed. Diageo became the sole owner of Ciroc and DeLeon after the lawsuit was withdrawn.

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