Opinion | Sean 'Diddy' Combs wanted us to believe Cassie was lying. Then came the tape.

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In November, when Cassie Ventura sued her ex-boyfriend and manager Sean “Diddy” Combs, she said she’d “endured over a decade of his violent behavior,” which included rape and his punching, beating, kicking and stomping her. Though Combs, an influential music mogul, settled with Ventura for an undisclosed amount the next day, he maintained his innocence and essentially accused his ex of lying.

The announcement of the settlement was coupled with a statement from Combs’ attorney, Ben Brafman, who said, “Mr. Combs’ decision to settle the lawsuit does not in any way undermine his flat-out denial of the claims. He is happy they got to a mutual settlement and wishes Ms. Ventura the best.”

On Friday, CNN released damning security video from a hotel hallway in 2016 that captures Combs viciously assaulting Ventura, who was still his girlfriend, with his hands and feet.

It’s unclear how CNN obtained the video or why it took eight years for it to be released, but we now know Combs is an abuser and a liar. What Ventura said he did to her in that incident is no longer merely alleged. Nor should it be categorized as a ploy to tarnish her ex’s image. He harmed Ventura at least once, and given what we know about the escalating nature of domestic violence and the fact that the video corroborates a specific incident Ventura highlights in her suit, her allegations are even more credible.

Now Combs has gone into full damage-control mode, issuing a weak-willed apology on Instagram in which he highlights his own “rehabilitation” rather than the trauma he has inflicted.

It’s so difficult to reflect on the darkest times in your life, but sometimes you got to do that,” Combs said. “I was f---ed up. I hit rock bottom. But I make no excuses. My behavior on that video is inexcusable. I take full responsibility for my actions in that video.”

Before he apologized to the general public, rather than to Ventura herself, Combs said he has been in therapy, gone to rehab and sought the assistance of a higher power to right his wrongs. “I’m so sorry,” he continued. “But I’m committed to be a better man each and every day.”

Meredith Firetog, an attorney for Cassie, said in a statement Sunday that Combs’ video was “more about himself than the many people he has hurt.”

“When Cassie and multiple other women came forward, he denied everything and suggested that his victims were looking for a payday,” Firetog said. “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.”

Instead of using that post to apologize to the woman he abused and to his children, four of whom are young girls, for behaving so badly, Combs appeared to be concerned with salvaging his career. Once again, he’s falling at the altar of success, seemingly concerned more about his public image than his private demons.

But the walls appear to be closing in on Combs. Ventura sued him in November, and even though he quickly settled with her, more lawsuits followed. Two other women, Liza Gardner and Joie Dickerson-Neal, filed lawsuits claiming that Combs sexually assaulted them. And a woman identified as Jane Doe in court documents said Combs and two other men gang-raped her when she was 17 and Combs was 34.

In a Dec. 6 post on Instagram, Combs wrote, “For the last couple of weeks, I have sat silently and watched people try to assassinate my character, destroy my reputation and my legacy.” He called the allegations against him “sickening” and said, “Let me be absolutely clear: I did not do any of the awful things being alleged.”

In February, Rodney “Lil Rod” Jones, a producer on his most recent album, filed a suit accusing Combs of sexually harassing, drugging and threatening him. An attorney for Combs said of Jones’ lawsuit, “We will address these outlandish allegations in court and take all appropriate action against those who make them.”

In March, Homeland Security Investigations’ New York office raided two of Combs’ homes, one in Los Angeles and the other in Miami. (He hasn’t been charged with a crime related to that search, and a statement from his lawyer called the searches “a gross use of military-level force” and said Combs is “innocent and will continue to fight” for his reputation.) CNN’s releasing the security tape Friday was the latest chink in what once seemed to be Combs’ impenetrable armor.

Whatever happens next to Combs, whether it’s prosecution, deplatforming or settling lawsuits with other accusers, the question will remain: What do we do about the industry, the entertainment business, that aided and abetted Combs, allowing him to accrue wealth and power at the expense of the women in his orbit?

Combs has been an influential, sometimes omnipresent, figure in popular Black music and the larger culture for more than three decades. At times, he has seemed inescapable, a towering example of how far hip-hop has come, but there were long complaints that he exploited the artists he signed. Eventually, there were claims of even more significant exploitation and abuse. Still, we have supported him as a culture, buying his albums, buying clothes from his Sean John line, attending his concerts and paying little attention as his former artists accused him of wrongdoing.

(Last year, according to Billboard, Combs finally “reassigned his publishing rights back to all the artists and songwriters who helped build the label he founded, Bad Boy Entertainment.”)

We collectively stood beside Combs through multiple rebrands and name changes and even a 1999 trial related to a shooting in a Manhattan nightclub that resulted in his acquittal. We’ve been intoxicated by Combs’ lavish lifestyle, holding him up as an example of “Black excellence,” the one who turned nothing into something.

It’s the same protection afforded to other abusive entertainers, whether it’s Harvey Weinstein or R. Kelly. Multiple women have accused Russell Simmons, arguably the original hip-hop mogul and the one who’s treated as an arbiter of hip-hop morals, of sexual misconduct, including rape. (After a Jane Doe filed a lawsuit in February that said Simmons raped her in the late 1990s, he said in a statement, “I have never engaged in non-consensual sex.” He said, “I would not, did not, and never will.”)

Whether it’s notable abusers Bill Cosby, who said he gave quaaludes to women he was pursuing for sex, Miles Davis, who hit his wives, or Shia LeBeouf — who has acknowledged being abusive but said “many of these allegations” of physical and emotional abuse made by his ex-girlfriend FKA Twigs in an unresolved lawsuit “are not true” — those who seek to hold such men accountable are often treated as systemic detractors, focused on tearing down good men.

We need a world where video evidence isn’t needed to believe survivors and abusers are held accountable the first time so there aren’t second, third and fourth times. In this world, Ventura’s trauma wouldn’t have to be displayed on loop across television screens and the internet before she gets a kind word from other celebrities. She wouldn’t have been attacked for accusing him in civil court and asking for monetary damages. Such a demand would be seen as a worthy form of justice.

It’s not hysterical to suggest that it’s time to burn the entertainment business to the ground and rebuild a safer, more equitable industry that’s completely free of abuse in the ashes. In fact, it’s beyond time. Survivors, Ventura included, are counting on it, and it remains our collective responsibility to protect them, to hold the line for them and not accept Instagram apologies as substitutes for actual accountability and changed behavior. There are many lessons we should heed from Combs’ ability to escape accountability, but there’s one that’s ringing especially loud for me today: No matter how much wealth, fame and power one accrues, there’s no way to evade karma.

This article was originally published on MSNBC.com