No Anonymity In P Diddy Rape Case

JOOTB_FinalA woman who filed a civil suit alleging she was gang raped by Sean (P Diddy) Combs will not be permitted to proceed using a pseudonym.  She failed to persuade the court that she needed such protection. 

A woman who calls herself Jane Doe alleges that in 2003, when she was 17 years old, she met Harve Pierre and another man in a lounge in the Detroit, Michigan area.  Pierre was, at one point, the President of Bad Boy, a music, media and entertainment company founded and owned by Combs.  Ms. Doe alleges that Pierre repeatedly complimented her appearance and bragged to her that he was "best friend[s]" with Combs.  Pierre called Combs and put Doe on the line. Combs encouraged Doe to fly to New York City with Pierre so that he could meet her.  Shortly after that phone call, Pierre directed Doe to go with him to the bathroom at the lounge.  After using drugs in Doe's presence, Pierre sexually assaulted Doe.  Pierre directed Doe to accompany him, and two other unnamed individuals to the airport to take a private jet to meet Combs.  Once they arrived in New York City, Doe went to Daddy's House, a recording studio owned by Combs and Bad Boy.  After they arrived, Ms. Doe alleges that Combs, Pierre and a Third Assailant plied her with drugs and alcohol.  She alleges that Combs directed Doe to accompany him to the bathroom, where all three men gang raped her.

In seeking to use a pseudonym, Ms. Doe was asking the court to make an exception to the general rule that parties to a lawsuit must use their real names.  To prevail in her request for anonymity, Ms. Doe needed to satisfy a multi factor balancing test.  In this instance, she failed.

In reaching its decision, the court agreed that the case included highly personal and sensitive claims, and that the plaintiff's identity had not been previously disclosed.  These factors favored plaintiff. 

But the court also noted that Ms. Doe failed to establish that she would experience particularized harm if she did not proceed anonymously.  The court noted that "[w]here a plaintiff claims that disclosure will harm that person's mental health, courts . . .  look for corroboration from medical professionals that detail the risk to plaintiff."  Ms. Doe failed to provide any such evidence.  As the court noted, "Doe has failed to identify any particularized harm that revealing her identity would cause.  She claims only generally and without corroboration that she will suffer trauma if her identity is revealed and she becomes the focus of media attention."  Absent more concrete evidence, the court considered her claim mere speculation. 

The court also noted that Combs and the other defendants identified the prejudice that would flow from Ms. Doe retaining her anonymity.  In the court's view, "the most significant form of prejudice to Defendants . . . is the discovery disadvantage that [Ms. Doe's} anonymity would present. A plaintiff who levies serious allegations 'puts [her] credibility in issue.'  . . .  In such a situation, when one party is anonymous while others are not, there is an 'asymmetry in fact-gathering.' . . . This asymmetry is more profound in cases involving substantial publicity, because 'information about only one side may come to light as a result.'"

A federal lawsuit is a matter of public concern.  And this means that the public has a right to know the names of the parties.  That right isn't absolute, but a party looking to proceed anonymously needs to come forward with evidence justifying that request.  Ms. Doe simply failed to make her case.

About The Author

Jack Greiner | Faruki Partner