Singer Nicki Minaj and her husband are being sued by the woman he was convicted of trying to rape in 1995, who claims the couple had harassed her and offered to pay her hundreds of thousands of dollars to recant her story.
Minaj’s now-husband, Kenneth ‘Zoo’ Petty, was accused of sexually assaulting the woman in Jamaica, Queens, when they were both 16 years old in 1994. Petty was convicted of attempted rape a year later.
The conviction forces Petty to register as a sex offender, but he failed to do so in the state of California when he moved there with Minaj, and he was arrested in March 2020.
Victim Jennifer Hough, now 43, claims Minaj and Petty began harassing her immediately after Petty was arrested, and tried to get her to recant her testimony.
In a lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Eastern New York, Hough says she ‘has not worked since May of 2020 due to severe depression, paranoia, constant moving, harassment and threats from the defendants and their associates. She is currently living in isolation out of fear of retaliation.’
The suit seeks unspecified damages and alleges Minaj and Petty carried out harassment, witness intimidation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Hough also sues Petty specifically for sexual assault, over the 1994 attack, according to TMZ.
The lawsuit came just days after Petty accepted a plea deal on the count of failure to register as a sex offender in California.
Hough has previously only been named as ‘Jennifer’ in interviews but is named in the lawsuit and gave an interview Friday using her full name to The New York Times.
In January she posted a video online showing her face for the first time, in which she tearfully pleaded with Minaj: ‘Tell your f**king people to leave my family alone… Leave me and my family the f**k alone.’
Many of the alarming allegations in the lawsuit are the same as ones Jennifer made in an interview with the Daily Beast in March.
In the lawsuit, said she and her family began receiving calls and bribe offers from Minaj and her estate following the arrest of her husband, Kenneth Petty, in March 2020.
When Petty failed to register himself in the state of California, he was arrested, and Hough’s claims Minaj contacted her to recant her rape claim to help Petty.
Hough claims Minaj and Petty – who grew up in the same part of New York City as she did – had recruited several people close to her family in an intimidation campaign that’s forced her to move three times.
The suit says that an intermediary offered Hough $20,000 in exchange for signing a prepared statement recanting the accusation, with a bonus that Minaj would send birthday videos to her daughter.
Hough added that she received a call from her brother, with whom she said she was not particularly close, who said people had offered $500,000 if Jennifer agreed to speak with Petty’s lawyer.
Tyrone Blackburn, a lawyer representing Hough, did not immediately reply to MailOnline’s request for comment.
Nor did representatives for Minaj and Petty.
Hough told the Times that she has never accepted a bribe and would not recant her story.
‘If I lie now and say that I lied then, you know what that does?’ she said. ‘Do you know what that’s going to say to my two little girls or even my sons?’
Like Petty and Minaj, Jennifer grew up in the South Jamaica neighborhood in Queens, where she was raised by a woman who adopted her as an infant.
She was 16 when the alleged assault occurred after Petty approached her while she was walking to school on September 16, 1994.
Petty allegedly came up behind her, pressed an object into her back and told her to ‘keep walking’ as he led her to his home, according to court records obtained by The Blast.
Once they arrived, Petty forced her upstairs and began to rape her at knifepoint before she managed to escape after striking him with a bottle, the records state.
Jennifer immediately reported the incident and went to a hospital for examination. When she returned home she said her adoptive mother told her: ‘Sorry you got raped, but you should have screamed.’
Petty denied Jennifer’s allegations when he was arrested, telling investigators: ‘I didn’t do anything.’
His parents told Jennifer’s mother that the teens were dating, she said, even though she insists that they weren’t.
‘I think I kind of always just felt like people wanted me to be a liar,’ Jennifer told the Daily Beast in March.
She said that in the months after Petty’s arrest, his friends harassed her family relentlessly in an effort to get her to drop the charges.
At one point her adoptive aunt even brought her to court, she said, but she still refused to walk back her claims and ultimately moved to Florida before the case concluded.
Petty was ultimately convicted in 1995 on four counts: first-degree attempted rape in the first degree, second-degree assault, second-degree unlawful imprisonment and criminal possession of a weapon. He was sentenced to four years in prison and ordered to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
Minaj reportedly started dating Petty after he got out of prison when he was 21 and she was just 16.
He landed back behind bars in 2006 after pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the shooting death of Lamont Robinson. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison and served seven before being released in 2013.
Minaj addressed Petty’s attempted rape conviction on her Apple Music show, Queen Radio, in 2019 after facing backlash over her announcement that they’d tied the knot.
‘When you’re somebody’s wife, you’ve gotta be even more prayed up,’ Minaj said on the show. ‘Because you’ve gotta cover your husband in prayer.’
The rapper insisted that Petty had been wrongfully convicted and claimed that the accuser had planned to write a letter to the judge recanting her statement before realizing that she could face jail time for admitting that she lied.