‘Umbrella’ Songwriter Accused of Sex Trafficking, Rape

Paras Griffin/Getty
Paras Griffin/Getty

Superstar music producer The-Dream is being sued by an aspiring songwriter who claims he used promises of career advancement to coerce her into an “abusive, violent, and manipulative relationship” filled with “physical assaults, violent sexual encounters, and horrific psychological manipulation.”

Chanaaz Mangroe, a singer-songwriter from the Netherlands who goes by the stage name Channii Monroe, filed suit in federal court in California on Tuesday, accusing The-Dream, also known as Terius Gesteelde-Diamant, of sex trafficking, sexual battery, and rape.

“Choosing to speak out about the trauma I survived has been one of the most difficult decisions of my life, 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,” Mangroe said in a statement. “Ultimately, my silence has become too painful, and I realized that I need to tell my story to heal.”

In a statement to The New York Times, Gesteelde-Diamant called the claims “untrue and defamatory.”

“I oppose all forms of harassment and have always strived to help people realize their career goals,” he said. “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.”

Gesteelde-Diamant is a Grammy Award-winning producer who has written Billboard-topping songs for Rihanna, Britney Spears, Mariah Carey, Justin Bieber, and Kanye West. (Well-known hits include Rihanna’s “Umbrella” and Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies.”) He has collaborated with Beyoncé on six albums and he was once referred to as her “musical soul mate” by The New Yorker.

According to the lawsuit, associates of Gesteelde-Diamant reached out to Mangroe via social media in 2014, when she was 23 years old and working in the U.S. on a visa. The suit claims she sent him samples of her music and he promised her a recording contract with a major label if she came to Atlanta to work with him. He allegedly sweetened the pot by promising to sponsor her visa, write her blockbuster songs, and get her a gig opening for Beyoncé’s next tour.

But there was a catch. According to the complaint, Gesteelde-Diamant lured Mangroe into a “prolonged nightmare,” in which he controlled her housing, transportation, and food expenses and kept near-constant track of her movements. He also allegedly forced her to drink excessive amounts of alcohol by holding her head back and pouring it down her throat.

Most horrifically, the complaint alleges Gesteelde-Diamant raped Mangroe and forced into rough sex in which he choked her—sometimes to edge of losing consciousness—and verbally berated her, forcing her to “praise him and declare her loyalty to him.” He also allegedly refused to wear a condom and became enraged when he found out she was on birth control. She alleged he recorded their sexual acts and used the existence of these recordings to threaten her into silence.

Gesteelde-Diamant was previously arrested for allegedly punching and kicking his eight-months-pregnant girlfriend and threatening to kill her if she went to the police. Prosecutors dropped the charges after saying they could not prove them beyond a reasonable doubt.

He was briefly engaged to singers Nivea and Christina Milian and has children with both.

The lawsuit follows similar allegations of physical and sexual abuse against another prominent producer, Sean “Diddy” Combs. Seven women have sued Combs, accusing him of sex trafficking and sexual assault. He denies the allegations.

Magroe’s attorney, Douglas Wigdor, called Gesteelde-Diamant's alleged behavior “yet another horrific example of how men in the music industry use their power and influence to manipulate and harm others.”

“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,” Wigdor said in a statement. “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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