Don Cornelius accused of sexually assaulting 2 women in 'Secrets of Playboy'

·Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
·2 min read

Soul Train creator Don Cornelius, who died in 2012, has been accused of sexually assaulting and locking up two women in the new A&E docuseries Secrets of Playboy.

On Monday's episode, P.J. Masten, who was one of the brand's so-called bunnies and then oversaw them as a "bunny mother," from 1972 to 1982, said that, as "a Playboy VIP Gold member," Cornelius was a frequent sight among the women. She recalled one night at a bar in Hollywood when the producer met two new Playboy recruits, who were sisters, and, after inviting them to sit with him in his booth, took them back to his house to party. Masten alleged that the unnamed women weren't heard from for three days.

Then, one of them called to say they had been held at Cornelius's house. The head of Playboy's security team found the women "bloodied, battered [and] drugged," when he picked them up, the former "bunny mother" said.

Don Cornelius photographed Aug. 9, 2005, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Don Cornelius photographed Aug. 9, 2005, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

She said that she feels guilt about not having come forward at the time to tell the proper authorities. The incident was handled solely by Playboy security, despite the alleged violent circumstances.

"They were tied up and bound," Masten said. "There were wooden objects that they were sodomized with and [one sister] could hear [the] other sister being brutalized. It was horrible, horrible."

Cornelius's son, Tony Cornelius, told People that Masten's recollection of the incident is an "unbelievable story without real proof" packed with "salaciousness."

Masten explained that what happened had left her not only guilt-ridden but mad.

"The thing that was so outrageous to me, that made me so angry, was that no charges were filed and Don Cornelius's privileges as a number one VIP were never suspended," Masten said. "He was back in the club the following week."

She broke into tears on the episode.

"These young girls, what they went through, nobody has any idea," Masten said. "My job was to pick up the pieces. I had to pick up the pieces of these kids. They were kids!"

She estimated that in the 10 years she worked for the brand, 40 to 50 women were silenced.

The story about Cornelius was part of the episode on the dangers the Playboy bunnies faced that were covered up by late Playboy founder Hugh Hefner's so-called "cleanup crew."

Cornelius, who died by suicide at 75, is credited with helping to bring Black artists, such as Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye, to audiences of all races with his popular show. He hosted Soul Train from 1971 to 1993, but he continued to produce it for another decade.

In 2008, he was arrested after a domestic dispute with his wife. He pleaded no contest and spent three years on probation.