Lawyer calls Diddy’s NDA terrifying, purposefully intimidating – Orange County Register

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By Devoun Cetoute and Grethel Aguila, Miami Herald

MIAMI — A nondisclosure agreement crafted on behalf of Sean “Diddy” Combs is the newest clue illuminating a sordid world of alleged sex trafficking, abuse and illegal drug use surrounding the music mogul. It raised alarm bells for a lawyer who analyzed the document for the Miami Herald.

NDAs are standard for artists and celebrities with major popularity and influence, attorney Gavin Tudor Elliot said. Normally, they’re viewed as tools to protect an artist’s private life, but the scope and breadth of Diddy’s NDA, Elliot added, is far beyond the norm.

“This agreement may be the broadest non-disclosure agreement that I have ever seen,” said Elliot, who has done extensive corporate contract work, including NDAs, for more than 20 years. “The lack of clear definition as to who can and cannot be spoken about is terrifying.”

For Elliot, the agreement may have been drafted to create a “culture of silence” rather than to offer a simple barrier between Diddy and the public.

Why did Diddy hand out NDAs?

In a lawsuit filed last month, music producer Rodney “Lil Rod” Jones accused Diddy of being the leader of a criminal enterprise that could qualify as a “widespread and dangerous criminal sex trafficking organization.” A copy of the NDA was included in an updated complaint filed Wednesday.

The NDA was presented to people who were at a Hollywood recording studio when a shooting occurred on Sept. 12, 2022, Jones alleged. Some signed it; he did not.

In the 98-page filing, Jones states the friend of Diddy’s son Justin Combs was shot during a heated conversation with Diddy and Justin.

According to Jones, there was a “massive coverup” after the shooting. Diddy’s crew, he alleges, doctored the narrative that the man was shot outside the studio during a robbery. Police have yet to release any reports related to the shooting.

Jones, however, states that Diddy and his son took the unnamed man into a nearby restroom shortly before gunshots rang out. When the door finally open, the man was on the floor in the fetal position, bleeding from his torso.

Jones rushed to the aid of Justin’s friend and took him to an ambulance, according to the lawsuit. Since the shooting, he has mysteriously vanished.

The producer’s lawsuit isn’t the only time similar allegations have emerged in recent months. Diddy was accused of sexual assault in several other lawsuits filed by women.

The first involved R&B singer Cassandra “Cassie” Ventura, who alleged that Diddy abused her for years and forced her to have sex with male sex workers. He settled with her the day after it was filed in November, but Cassie’s legal action proved to be a catalyst for other potential victims to speak out — in turn creating a domino effect for the four lawsuits that followed.

It’s unclear who has seen or been told to sign the NDA — part of the agreement is that signers can’t disclose it.

Agreement weaponized for intimidation?

Elliot sees the agreement more as a dangerously broad legal document rather than a true NDA that would withstand legal challenges.

The document attempts to be a nondisclosure, nondisparagement, intellectual property rights and indemnification agreement all at once for Diddy and anyone affiliated with him, in any shape or form.

There are no specifics on what would make someone an associate of Diddy, nor does it have any constraints on what can and cannot be said about them, Elliot said.

The agreement strives to make everything involving or around him confidential, he said, but that’s not how the law works. Traditionally, most NDA’s allow signers to disclose any information that is part of the public domain or that is given to them by a third party.

“It is anybody’s guess who those people are because anyone affiliated with the artist in his professional or personal life counts,” he said. “I would never let a client sign this.”

The ambiguity created by the agreement’s terms is intentional, Elliot said. Any normal person with little legal knowledge would fear of the prospect of being sued by referring to someone or something that they did not know even involved Diddy.

“It’s not only designed and intended to create that culture of silence and intimidation, but any reasonable person reading this would think they would just need to shut up,” he said.

However, the NDA is not bulletproof, and Elliot added it would be unenforceable. A signor would be allowed to talk about Diddy and his associates if they were mandated to by a court, such as a subpoena or police investigation, and to seek legal counsel.

While those loopholes exist, Elliot thinks a normal person wouldn’t know. The fear alone would stop them from reporting a possible crime involving Diddy or his associates if they can’t prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.

“The most likely response from people would be ‘I didn’t see anything’ or ‘I don’t know,’ if they would say anything at all,” Elliot said of signers who may have seen a crime committed.

When are NDAs needed?

A celebrity — or someone of high net worth — may request an NDA for people who work for them, including assistants and housemaids, to protect information they may not want publicly disclosed, said South Florida attorney Brad Cohen, who has represented celebrities like Drake, Lil Wayne and Kodak Black.

“When you’re dealing with people of high-net worth … the motivation to make things up, leak information, get paid for information increases,” Cohen said.

There’s a multitude of business reasons for having an NDA signed, Cohen said. If something happens at a location in which a prominent individual is affiliated, it could affect their business dealings. For musicians, they may want to protect their music from being prematurely released to the public.

“It’s more of a protection for the high net worth or popular person from, usually, nefarious individuals …” Cohen said.

Elliot believes it is more likely that the NDA offered to Jones and others was an emergency agreement, and Diddy’s team has a better-worded and less ambiguous document for other matters.

“This is speculation, but this [NDA] seems like the sort of one you have in your back pocket when something really bad goes down and you want to cover it up,” he said.


©2024 Miami Herald. Visit miamiherald.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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