Nicki Minaj and Husband Kenneth Petty Sued by His Alleged Rape Victim for Harassment, Intimidation

Jennifer Hough filed a lawsuit in New York accusing Minaj and her husband of offering her up to $500,000 to recant her 1994 rape accusation against Petty

Nicki Minaj and Kenneth Petty
Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Nicki Minaj and her husband Kenneth "Zoo" Petty are being sued by Petty's alleged rape victim.

In a lawsuit filed Friday, Jennifer Hough — a woman who accused Petty of rape at the age of 16 in 1994 — accused Minaj and her husband, a registered sex offender, of attempting to intimidate her into recanting her rape accusation. Seeking unspecified damages, the lawsuit also accused the couple of intentional infliction of emotional distress and alleges sexual assault and battery, referring to the 1994 incident.

Hough alleges that both Petty, 43, and Minaj, 38, "directly and indirectly" intimidated and harassed and attempted to bribe her into recanting that Petty raped her. (The arrest led Petty to spend time in prison and now requires him to register as a sex offender due to his conviction.)

A representative for Minaj did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

"As a direct result of the actions of Defendant Minaj and Defendant Petty, Plaintiff has been traumatized her entire life," the suit read. "Plaintiff has never felt safe since being raped by Defendant."

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The lawsuit says that Hough was offered $20,000 once in exchange for signing a prepared statement that would recant her rape accusation, that Minaj called her to speak about recanting her story and that she received numerous harassing calls and visits from people associated with the couple. (It also details how Hough's brother was offered half a million dollars in exchange for her recantation by associates of the rapper and her husband.)

In the lawsuit, Hough recounts the story of her sexual assault. She says she was on her way to school before she was approached by Petty who grabbed her and pressed a knife into her back, asking her to "start walking." Petty then allegedly took her into a house at knifepoint as she was "fighting for her life to get this rapist off her." Petty then allegedly caused a small cut on her stomach before Petty allegedly raped her.

"He stood in the mirror and beat on his chest stating, 'I am the man. I am the man' repeatedly," the document read, before detailing that she escaped the house after Petty attempted to keep her inside against her will. Hough allegedly reported the rape to the police immediately. (The lawsuit details that she was victim-blamed by her family and community.)

The lawsuit adds how, years later, once Minaj and Petty started dating in 2015, the rapper began to discredit her story online, and say that Hough and Petty were "in a relationship" at the time of the rape, "but go awf internet." (The two were "never romantic in any way" before the alleged rape, according to the lawsuit.)

The first time Hough spoke out about Minaj and Petty's alleged harassment was in an interview with a gossip YouTuber who has since followed Hough's story and done interviews with people related to the case.

Minaj and Hough allegedly had a conversation where Minaj offered to send her publicist to write a statement recanting the rape charge, per the lawsuit. During the phone call, Hough allegedly told Minaj that she was, in fact, raped ("I need you to know woman to woman, that this happened," she told the rapper) before Minaj hung up the phone.

"If I lie now and say that I lied then, you know what that does?" Hough told The New York Times. "Do you know what that's going to say to my two little girls, or even my sons?"

After the call, several people associated with Petty and Minaj told a family member of Hough's that they would offer $500,000 for her to recant her story. "Plaintiff hung up, distraught that Defendant Minaj's instructed her associates to contact her brother, and her brother would even relay such a message," the lawsuit read, adding that in April 2020, Minaj allegedly sent Hough's childhood friend, referred to as Black, to Hough to offer legal advice on how to recant her story and offer her $20,000.

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Kenneth Petty and Nicki Minaj. Johnny Nunez/Getty Images

"Black pulled out a green-colored folder that had a document inside. This document was a written recanted statement prepared for Plaintiff to sign. Black then pulls twenty thousand dollars out of the armrest and places it on the Plaintiff's lap," the lawsuit read. "Plaintiff took the money off her lap and placed it on the floor. Plaintiff could not believe that Defendant Minaj would go this far to bribe her."

Hough detailed being continually harassed, adding that she has suffered from nightmares, depression and "thoughts of paranoia" due to the multiple encounters Petty and Minaj's associates have had with her and her family. She was even offered witness protection by U.S. Marshalls, according to the lawsuit.

"I feel like I'm living in secret," she told the Times, "like I can't tell people my exact location."

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 connected to a certified crisis counselor.

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