Rapper Nicki Minaj and her husband, Kenneth Petty, are accused of harassing and intimidating a woman he sexually assaulted more than two decades ago.
The woman, who has publicly identified herself as Jennifer Hough, filed a lawsuit Friday accusing the couple of trying to force her to recant the rape. The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, alleges that Minaj even went so far as to bribe Hough.
Attorneys for Petty declined to comment. Minaj's team could not immediately be reached for comment on Saturday.
The suit alleges that Petty and Minaj began contacting Hough and members of her family after Petty was arrested last year when authorities said he failed to register as a sex offender in California over the rape case. It says that days after the arrest, Hough was contacted by a childhood friend. During a conversation about the rape, she told the friend that she "wished it could all just go away forever," the suit states.
The friend offered to help Hough, who received a phone call from Minaj a few days later, according to the lawsuit. Minaj allegedly told Hough that she could have her publicist draft up a statement recanting the rape but Hough declined, the suit says.
"Within days of this conversation, Plaintiff and her family suffered an onslaught of harassing calls and unsolicited visits," according to the lawsuit.
It further alleges that one of Hough's family members was offered $500,000 from Minaj if Hough recanted the rape. On another occasion, Hough was offered $20,000 if she signed a prepared document retracting her statements about Petty. Minaj also offered to send happy birthday videos to Hough's teenage daughter "as a bonus," the lawsuit states.
"Plaintiff could not believe that Defendant Minaj would go this far to bribe her, "the suit alleges.
Hough said Petty sexually assaulted her at a home in the Queens borough of New York City on Sept. 16, 1994, the lawsuit states. Hough, then 16, was on her way to school when she saw Petty standing at a bus stop. Petty was 16 at the time.
The lawsuit alleges that Petty grabbed Hough by the back of her jacket, pressed a knife into her back and told her to "start walking." Petty allegedly took Hough to a nearby house as she "began pleading for her life," according to the lawsuit.
After raping Hough, Petty looked in a mirror and stated, "I am the man, I am the man," the suit alleges. Hough was able to flee the house and ran to her high school where she told a security guard. The police were contacted and Petty was arrested at the home.
Hough describes how she was repeatedly intimidated and harassed by people in the neighborhood following Petty's arrest. The lawsuit claims that Hough's family also began "to turn on her" because they feared retaliation from Petty and his associates.
Because of the threats, Hough's family made her attend Petty's court hearing and request that the charges be dropped, but it was denied. Petty ended up accepting a plea deal in the case and served nearly four years in prison.
Hough said in the lawsuit that she had to move out of New York because of the threats she had been receiving. She thought she had put the situation behind her until Minaj and Petty began contacting her.
"Plaintiff has not worked since May of 2020 due to severe depression, paranoia, constant moving, harassment, and threats from the defendants and their associates," the lawsuit states. "She is currently living in isolation out of fear of retaliation."
Minaj previously commented about her husband's past, writing in an Instagram post that he and the victim were "in a relationship" — a claim Hough denies in the lawsuit. The rapper also told fans on her Queen Radio show that her husband was wrongfully accused of rape.
Hough's attorney, Tyrone A. Blackburn, told NBC News on Saturday that his client decided to come forward because she has spent the past several years trying to "move on with her life and away from the horrors of 1994."
"My client had no contact with, or any interest in coming after Mr. Petty or Ms. Minaj — they came after her," he said. "Now she fights back!"
Blackburn said Hough wanted to stay out of the limelight and accused Petty and Minaj of coming after her child. According to the lawsuit, a man approached Hough's daughter in 2020 asking if she knew of Petty.
"They did a whole bunch of things to this woman probably within a 7 months span that most people would not be able to endure," the attorney said. "She moved three times. She changed her phone number three times. She did everything that she possibly could to avoid these people and yet they wanted her to say her true life experience was a lie. That what she went through on that day in 1994 never happened. Enough is enough."