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Sean Combs Diddy

Music mogul and entrepreneur Sean “Diddy” Combs arrives at the Billboard Music Awards on May 15, 2022, in Las Vegas.

Jordan Strauss/Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

One of Sean “Diddy” Combs’s accusers is from Chicago. Who is Lil Rod?

The music superstar is facing multiple lawsuits, including one from Rodney Jones, 38, who grew up in Chicago’s gospel music community.

Among the multiple lawsuits now filed against Sean “Diddy” Combs is one by a music producer with strong roots in Chicago’s gospel community. Rodney Jones Jr. is suing Sean “Diddy” Combs in federal court, charging that the music superstar engaged in illegal drug activity and committed sexual assault.

Known as Lil Rod, Jones, 38, was born on Chicago’s West Side and grew up in the gospel music community. He filed the lawsuit in New York in late February in federal court for the southern district of New York. According to court documents, Jones said Diddy hired Jones to produce nine songs on his most recent album, but between September 2022 and November 2023, Combs encouraged him and others to take drugs, and Combs and others sexually harassed and assaulted him. Jones is seeking $30 million.

Also named in Jones’s lawsuit are Justin Dior Combs, Combs’s 30-year-old son; Kristina Khorram, Combs’s chief of staff; plus Combs Global Enterprises. Together, Jones said, they operate and participate in a “sex-trafficking venture,” according to court papers.

An attorney for Combs did not respond to a request for comment.

According to court documents, Jones started playing music in the church, first as a drummer and then, as a teen, a guitarist. His lawsuit refers to him as “a musical prodigy” who plays 13 instruments and played with several well-known artists in the gospel music world including songwriter and singer Donald Lawrence, Grammy-winning singer and pianist Smokie Norful, Grammy-winning gospel group the Clark Sisters and vocal group Georgia Mass Choir. (Lawrence declined to comment about Jones when reached by WBEZ. Norful, along with representatives for the Clark Sisters and Georgia Mass Choir, did not respond to requests for comment.)

More recently, according to his Facebook page, Jones has worked with rapper T-Pain and singers Musiq Soulchild and Mary J. Blige. When he won an ASCAP Rhythm and Soul Music Award in 2020, Jones said he was “definitely inspired … to keep pushing on.”

In a February Facebook post, Jones said he was pausing all public appearances because he feared retaliation from Combs. The situation, he said, is “very scary … and has me worried about my kids.” He promised to not emerge in public “until we know it is clear and safe.”

Jones made no mention of the details of his lawsuit on Facebook but said “the contract, the offer they gave me is disgusting,” adding that he was taking Combs to court because “I have to do what is right for myself, my rights, and most importantly, my kids.” He also wrote that the superstar tried “to steal my publishing” revenue and paid him insufficient “producer fees.”

According to the lawsuit, while he was working with Combs, Jones lived with the superstar in his homes in Los Angeles, New York City, and Miami, and aboard his rented yacht in the Virgin Islands. Jones said that around August 2022 Combs asked him to produce songs for The Love Album: Off the Grid, which was eventually released in September 2023 and nominated for best progressive R&B album at this year’s Grammy Awards.

In his lawsuit, Jones said he “was the victim of constant unsolicited and unauthorized groping and touching of his anus” by Combs and that the music star often tried to coerce him into sex. He also said in the court filing that he was sexually assaulted by the female cousin of rapper Yung Miami and actor Cuba Gooding Jr. He also alleges in the lawsuit that Combs forced him to solicit sex workers for himself and for Combs. At one party in July 2023, Jones said in the lawsuit that many of the sex workers in Combs’s home were minors. “The presence of these underage women made Mr. Jones very uncomfortable,” the lawsuit said. While he tried leaving, Combs forced him to drink liquor laced with the drug ecstasy, causing him to pass out, the suit alleges.

Jones said in his court filing that Combs tried to control him by promising him a Grammy for producer of the year, money, music industry access and ownership of Combs’s Miami residence.

A GoFundMe campaign apparently linked to Jones claims he is fighting for producer fees, publishing shares, and royalties owed to him for the Combs album project. To date the campaign has raised about $6,000 of its $50,000 goal.

“For the better part of the past 6 months, my team and I have extended every opportunity we knew possible to have these matters addressed and resolved (fairly) but in private,” the GoFundMe attributed to Jones reads. “However, Diddy’s negotiation tactics, to stall communications, dry out (my) funds, and have me negotiating out of desperation or without a real means of fighting back has forced me here!”

Jones’s attorney did not respond to a request for comment from WBEZ. Since Jones filed his lawsuit, additional accusers have filed their own complaints, bringing the total number of federal lawsuits against Combs to eight.

Mark Guarino is a journalist based in Chicago and the author ofCountry & Midwestern: Chicago in the History of Country Music and the Folk Revival.

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