Music producer The-Dream sued over allegations of sex trafficking, battery and rape

Music producer The-Dream wears a white suit while holding up a Grammy Award onstage
Eight-time Grammy winner The-Dream, the producer behind massive hits for Beyoncé, Rihanna and Ye, has been accused of sex trafficking and rape in a new lawsuit. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Producer The-Dream has been accused of sex trafficking, sexual battery and rape in a new lawsuit brought by the same firm that represented Sean "Diddy" Combs' ex-girlfriend Cassie Ventura in her now-settled case against the hip-hop mogul.

The eight-time Grammy winner — named in the lawsuit as Terius Gesteelde-Diamant — is accused in the civil suit of trafficking then-23-year-old songwriter Chanaaz Mangroe, also known as Channii Monroe, in 2014. Mangroe alleged that she was trafficked under the guise of a legitimate recording and distribution contract and that the "Umbrella" and "All of the Lights" hitmaker instead lured her into an abusive, violent and manipulative relationship. She is seeking unspecified damages and a jury trial.

In court documents filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Mangroe alleged that The-Dream's "depraved behavior" was facilitated by his art label Contra Paris LLC and record label Epic Records, whom she says he allegedly persuaded to invest in Mangroe, edged her out of negotiations, then used "corporate funding to assist in his trafficking venture."

Representatives for The-Dream and Epic Records did not immediately respond Tuesday to The Times' requests for comment.

However, in a statement to the New York Times, the "Renaissance" producer denied the allegations.

“These claims are untrue and defamatory,” he said. “I oppose all forms of harassment and have always strived to help people realize their career goals. As someone committed to making a positive impact on my fellow artists and the world at large, I am deeply offended and saddened by these accusations.”

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Working in the United States on an international visa from the Netherlands in 2014, Mangroe said she was invited via social media to join The-Dream and his partner Tricky Stewart in Atlanta. Mangroe, who had a three-year visa to work as a songwriter, lived in Los Angeles at the time and alleged that the introduction was "far from being the amazing breakthrough opportunity she imagined."

"Ms. Mangroe’s experience with Dream was nothing short of a prolonged nightmare," said the 60-page complaint, obtained Tuesday by The Times. "Under the guise of pursuing a legitimate recording and publishing contract with Ms. Mangroe, Dream lured the young and vulnerable artist into an abusive, violent, and manipulative relationship filled with physical assaults, violent sexual encounters, and horrific psychological manipulation."

She claimed that the producer used her vocals without compensating or crediting her on his leaked 2016 track "Transparent" and that he also used her for "his base desires." She alleged that he locked her in a dark room adjacent to a recording studio, violently had sex with her and then left her there naked and alone for hours. She alleged that he returned to have sex with her and demanded that she tell him she loved him, the complaint said.

Mangroe also accused the producer of using his age and influence in the music industry to manipulate her into believing that she needed him to be successful and "roped her into his world through false promises" to gain her trust. She alleged that he assured her he would sponsor an extension of her international visa; write blockbuster songs for her (as he said he did for Beyoncé and Rihanna) if she became part of his "sanctuary"; offered her a lofty version of recording and publishing contracts with major labels; and told her that she would open for Beyoncé on an upcoming tour.

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She alleged that The-Dream — who is married and has nine children by four women — controlled all aspects of her stay in the United States, including providing housing in L.A., transportation and food expenses and keeping close track of her location at all times. He allegedly forced her "to drink excessive amounts of alcohol" and frequently strangled her during violent sex, at one point choking her until she almost lost consciousness. He also allegedly refused to wear a condom during intercourse despite her protests and became enraged when he discovered she was on birth control "because he believed it to be a sign of disrespect," the complaint said.

She also alleged that he raped her in the back of a renovated Sprinter van and forced her to engage in sex acts in a public movie theater, also recorded her during sex and "used the existence of the recording to threaten [her] into silence."

Mangroe alleges that her career was upended, her music was taken without explanation and that she was never compensated for her work because "every attempt to revive her career has been hijacked by Dream and those who support him." She said she has trauma from which she has yet to recover, including feeling broken as an artist, and constantly feels afraid for her physical safety and plagued by reminders of the violence and control she allegedly experienced.

"Nearly a decade later, Ms. Mangroe is still putting the pieces of her life back together, but she knows that without speaking up about what Dream did to her, she will never be able to heal from the harm he has caused," the complaint said. "She therefore brings this lawsuit to speak up for herself and other female artists who have been tormented by powerful and selfish men in the recording industry. She seeks justice and accountability to prevent further horrific abuse like she experienced, and to regain her sense of self as an artist and as a woman."

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In a statement provided to The Times by her attorney, Mangroe said that choosing to speak about her trauma has been a difficult decision, but one she hopes will help abuse survivors.

"But ultimately, what Dream did to me made it impossible to live the life I envisioned for myself and pursue my goals as a singer and songwriter," she said. "Ultimately, my silence has become too painful, and I realized that I need to tell my story to heal. I hope that doing so will also help others and prevent future horrific abuse.”

"This is yet another horrific example of how men in the music industry use their power and influence to manipulate and harm others," attorneys Douglas H. Wigdor and Meredith Firetog, partners of Wigdor LLP, said. "Dream, like Sean Combs did with Ms. Ventura and others, used his standing as a prominent recording artist and producer to subject Ms. Mangroe to vicious physical, psychological, and sexual abuse. While she will never fully recover from what he and those who supported him did to her, her willingness to speak out now is evidence of her extraordinary strength. We are honored to represent her."

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.