Sean 'Diddy' Combs owned up to violent assault of Cassie caught on video. Should he have?

The violent 2016 video of Sean "Diddy" Combs assaulting singer and ex-girlfriend Cassie Ventura has surfaced, and the rap mogul's apology may have done more harm than good.

The hotel surveillance video of Diddy hitting and dragging his then girlfriend, obtained by CNN and released Friday, comes amid law enforcement raids of his homes and lawsuits against the producer, with allegations ranging from sexual assault and rape to sex trafficking.

The InterContinental Hotel assault, which reportedly took place on March 5, 2016, matched allegations levied in Ventura's November sex trafficking, rape and physical abuse lawsuit against the hip-hop hitmaker. The two settled the civil suit one day after it was filed.

Diddy, 54, denied Ventura's "offensive and outrageous" allegations at the time the lawsuit was filed and accused his ex of extortion.

After video of Sean "Diddy" Combs assaulting ex-girlfriend Cassie Ventura in 2016 surfaced, his apology has garnered negative reactions.
After video of Sean "Diddy" Combs assaulting ex-girlfriend Cassie Ventura in 2016 surfaced, his apology has garnered negative reactions.

Diddy's apology 'probably hurt him more than it helped,' one expert says

Diddy cannot be tried for the 2016 assault, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said in a statement released on social media Friday night, because the incident occurred "beyond the timeline where a crime of assault can be prosecuted."

But because of the several still-open cases against Diddy, his apology and admittance of guilt in the assault of Ventura, 37, may be "pivotal" in his other legal battles, says Roger Archibald, a New York-based criminal defense attorney.

"Although the statute of limitations has expired in California … the compelling video evidence from this incident remains potent and may resurface in future legal challenges," Archibald tells USA TODAY in an email. "The actions captured in this footage not only document the attack but also provide critical insight into his behavioral patterns. These can be pivotal in addressing allegations made by other women. In essence, the expiration of the statute of limitations in California does not preclude accountability in other jurisdictions ‒ this matter is far from concluded."

Archibald says Diddy's apology video "probably hurt him more than it helped him" and that he would have advised the rapper against releasing any public statement. On the heels of the surveillance video, anything Diddy said would sound like he was trying to "clean" up the situation because he "got caught," the attorney says.

"All that does is put you, in my view, in a less advantageous position because you should have come clean in the beginning, but if you decided not to, you should stick to your guns and fight all the way," Archibald says. If he was going to release an apology, Diddy should have "addressed it directly to the person he assaulted," but he didn't do a "good enough job of coming across in a contrite fashion," Archibald says.

In the video, Diddy issued a general apology for his actions but never mentioned Ventura's name, nor did he directly state what he did to her.

Archibald tells USA TODAY that Diddy's statements could "open him up to many more civil actions being lodged against him," and "may make it easier for folks who may have had an interaction with him to rethink what actually happened and possibly seek legal counsel."

Diddy 'didn't expose himself any more' with apology, another says

But Judie Saunders, a partner with the law firm ASK LLP, argues that Diddy's statement was so vague that he "didn't expose himself any more," so it likely won't have a big impact on any of his other cases.

"It's really done more to try to repair some reputational harm, because it didn't really bind him to anything legally that you could go forward or use against him," she says.

The video and apology are "ancillary" to a potential federal case against Diddy, Saunders says, as after the rapper's houses were searched by Homeland Security Investigations agents, "I would assume that they have so much more incriminating evidence that this is something much smaller." But the rapper seems to be setting up a future defense that he isn't culpable for his behavior because he wasn't himself, the attorney says. "All of this is teeing up an attempt to pad a defense with medical records."

Saunders says while Diddy came across as "insincere" to Ventura, he could be seen as sincere by potential customers of his products, who were the real intended audience of his apology.

Speaking directly to the camera in a clip shared Sunday on his Instagram page, the Bad Boy Records founder said he makes "no excuses" for his behavior.

"I take full responsibility for my actions in that video. I'm disgusted. I was disgusted then when I did it, (and) I'm disgusted now," he said, appearing in a cabana-style dwelling. Diddy said he was reflecting on the "darkest times" in his life when he hit "rock bottom" and that he sought professional help after the incident shown in the video.

"I'm so sorry," he said. "But I'm committed to being a better man each and every day. I'm not asking for forgiveness. I'm truly sorry."

In a statement shared with USA TODAY on Sunday, Meredith Firetog, an attorney for Ventura, said that Diddy's apology was "more about himself than the many people he has hurt," adding, "When Cassie and multiple other women came forward, he denied everything and suggested that his victims were looking for a payday. That he was only compelled to 'apologize' once his repeated denials were proven false shows his pathetic desperation, and no one will be swayed by his disingenuous words."

Jessica Schaefer, a crisis communications expert, tells USA TODAY that Diddy "didn't come across genuine" in the video and failed to take full accountability for his actions.

"In any sort of crisis communications response, you have to be authentic and show some sort of empathy, and neither of those things came through in the video," she says, noting that she would not have advised Diddy to release it and that he should have "apologized directly to" Ventura.

That the video appeared to be shot in a cabana created "terrible" optics for the rapper by making it look like he's "not taking it seriously," Schaefer says. Based on the public's perception of the apology as insincere, Diddy "couldn't have shot himself in the foot more if he tried," she says. "He's going to have a very difficult time getting back to any sort of good graces in public perception."

Cassie Ventura's husband Alex Fine, Aubrey O'Day, more react to Diddy assault, apology video

Diddy's apology garnered a significant reaction online, with many sharing disdain for the Revolt founder's lack of sincerity.

"Diddy did not apologize to Cassie. He apologized to the world for seeing what he did,” Aubrey O'Day, a former Danity Kane singer on Diddy's Bad Boy record label, wrote Sunday on X.

"He says he's 'disgusted w(ith) himself now, and he was disgusted (with) himself then' ... but apparently he wasn’t disgusted enough (with) himself to not PIN this statement out calling her a liar & denying all of it," she wrote, referring to a pinned comment on Diddy's profile denying Ventura's allegations. "Leave god and mercy out of this, they aren't present here, and you know it."

After video of Sean "Diddy" Combs assaulting ex-girlfriend Cassie Ventura in 2016 surfaced, his apology may spell legal trouble.
After video of Sean "Diddy" Combs assaulting ex-girlfriend Cassie Ventura in 2016 surfaced, his apology may spell legal trouble.

Radio personality Charlamagne tha God chimed in Monday morning, slamming Diddy for having a "different level of insanity."

Regarding the apology, Charlamagne said on the radio show "The Breakfast Club": "You can't believe anything that comes out of Diddy's mouth. He's not sorry. He's sorry he got caught."

The hosts of "The View" discussed the video and apology on Monday, with Ana Navarro calling Diddy a "social leper."

"The LAPD may not be able to charge him, but we are able to shun him and he should be treated like the leper, the social leper and criminal he is," Navarro said.

Cassie's husband, fitness trainer Alex Fine, posted a statement on Instagram on Friday following the release of the surveillance footage.

"Men who hit women aren't men. Men who enable it and protect those people aren't men," he wrote. "As men, violence against women shouldn't be inevitable, check your brothers, your friends, and your family. Our daughters, sisters, mothers, and wives should feel protected and loved. Hold the women in your life with the upmost (sic) regard. Men who hurt women hate women."

Contributing: Anika Reed

If you are a victim of domestic violence, The National Domestic Violence Hotline (thehotline.orgallows you to speak confidentially with trained advocates online or by the phone, which they recommend for those who think their online activity is being monitored by their abuser (800-799-7233). They can help survivors develop a plan to achieve safety for themselves and their children.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Diddy video apology for Cassie assault could be a bad idea. Here's why