Nicki Minaj and her husband, Kenneth Petty, are facing a lawsuit by a woman who accused Petty of rape in 1994 in New York.
The woman, Jennifer Hough, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Eastern New York on Friday (Aug. 13) and alleges that Petty “intimidated” and “harassed” “Plaintiff [Hough] not to speak out concerning the rape she experienced at the hands of Defendant Petty,” while claiming Minaj (real name Onika Tanya Maraj) also “threatened” “Plaintiff [Hough] to recant her legitimate claim that Defendant Petty raped her.”
In the filing, Hough also accuses the married couple of “witness intimidation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, harassment, assault, battery, sexual assault, and sexual harassment.”
The lawsuit, obtained by Billboard, details how on Sept. 16, 1994, when Hough and Petty were both 16 years old living in Jamaica, Queens, in New York, that she ran into him on her way to school when he later held her at knifepoint, led her into a nearby house and raped her. He was arrested that day for first-degree rape and later pleaded guilty to attempted rape. He was sentenced to 18 to 54 months in prison.
He later pleaded guilty in an unrelated case to a manslaughter charge in 2006, spending seven years behind bars out of his 10-year sentence and let out in 2013 on supervised release.
Petty was charged Feb. 25, 2020, for failing to register as a sex offender, which is a requirement under the 2006 Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). He was later added to the California Megan’s Law database, which tracks sex offenders in the state of California, where Petty and Minaj reside with their son, whom the rapper gave birth to last year. The Los Angeles District Attorney’s office announced in March 2020 that the charges were dropped against Petty, but if he were to be convicted of the same felony charge, he would face up to 10 years in prison, which is the statutory maximum.
The New York State department labels Petty as a level-two sex offender, which deems him of having a moderate risk of a repeat offense, all stemming from the 1994 attempted rape conviction.
In the lawsuit, Hough recounts the years after the alleged rape, claiming she felt “mentally and emotionally destroyed” and moved around a lot out of fear of returning to New York. But beginning in 2018, interest in her identity surged following Minaj’s viral comments about the case. Underneath a 2018 Instagram post, Minaj, 38, clapped back at those who continued to criticize Petty’s criminal past. “He was 15, she was 16… in a relationship. But go awf Internet.” In a 2019 episode of Minaj’s Queen Radio show on Apple Music, she told her fans, “You’ve gotta cover your husband in prayer” before saying that he was wrongfully accused of rape by Hough, whom she said wrote a letter recanting her statement, which Hough denies. “But white is right,” Minaj said later on in the episode (The filing states that Hough is biracial.)
In 2020, shortly after Petty was arrested for failing to register as a sex offender, the suit alleges that Hough’s brother told her over the phone that “two people reached out to a family member stating an offer of $500,000.00 from Defendant Minaj if Plaintiff wrote a letter recanting her rape claim against Defendant Petty.” At one point, Hough’s childhood friend, who acted as a liasion between the married couple and Hough, also presented another $20,000 from Minaj, who proposed to “send birthday videos to Plaintiff’s Daughter for her sweet 16 as a bonus” if she would sign a prepared recanted statement.
“Plaintiff has not worked since May of 2020 due to severe depression, paranoia, constant moving, harassment, and threats from the Defendants and their associates. She is currently living in isolation out of fear of retaliation,” the filing states.