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The-Dream, songwriter for Beyoncé and Rihanna, sued for sex trafficking and rape by ex-protégé

The plaintiff claims the musician coerced her into violent sexual encounters while promising to turn her into the next hit singer.
The-Dream
Posted at 4:03 PM, Jun 04, 2024

The-Dream — a musician and producer who's created massive hits with Beyoncé, Rihanna and more — has been sued by a former protégé on claims of sex trafficking, sexual battery and rape.

The plaintiff Chanaaz Mangroe, also known under the stage name Channii Monroe, alleged in the suit filed Tuesday that The-Dream lured her into an "abusive, violent and manipulative relationship filled with physical assaults, violent sexual encounters and horrific psychological manipulation" based on the promise that he would help her with a "legitimate recording and publishing contract."

These instances, Mangroe claims, included the producer frequently strangling her, repeatedly forcing her to engage in sexual acts and threatening her into silence using recordings of the two in intimate encounters.

The lawsuit says The-Dream's "depraved behavior was facilitated" by his record label, Contra Paris LLC, and Epic Records, which Dream "convinced to invest" in Mangroe. Both labels are also listed as defendants in the suit.

"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 suit states. "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."

In a statement supplied by a representative to The New York Times, Dream said the claims made in the suit are "untrue and defamatory."

"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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Dream, whose real name is Terius Gesteelde-Diamant, is an eight-time Grammy Award-winning songwriter and producer behind some of the biggest pop and R&B hits like Rihanna's "Umbrella," Ye's "All Of The Lights," Justin Bieber's "Baby" and Mariah Carey's "Touch My Body." He's also worked on each of Beyoncé's albums since 2008, and penned some of her top hits like "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" and "Break My Soul."

In her 60-page lawsuit, Mangroe said she only knew of his reputation as an accomplished songwriter, not of his alleged history of misogyny and violence toward women. She mentions multiple domestic violence arrests involving The-Dream, including one in 2014 in which he was charged with felony assault and strangulation, reckless endangerment and child endangerment of his pregnant girlfriend. Mangroe says The-Dream "publicly insisted" his then-girlfriend pressed the charges only to protect her immigration status.

Mangroe was also an immigrant when she met The-Dream in 2015, the same year the Netherlands native's O-1B songwriting visa was ending with a U.S.-based production company.

The plaintiff said she met The-Dream after his childhood friend and personal security detail asked her to share her music. Soon after their first meeting, The-Dream offered to sign her to Contra, and she said she explained that she needed a new petitioner to renew her visa for the next three years. He assured her that Contra would assume the role, the suit claims.

"Ms. Mangroe, then just 23-years-old and in an entirely new and enticing world, truly believed that all her dreams were about to come true. Unfortunately, however, she would soon learn that it was just the start of a long nightmare," the lawsuit states.

Mangroe alleges Dream told her she needed to "belong" to him so they could become the next "Bey and Jay," referring to Beyoncé and Jay-Z. She says he "regularly" used her admiration for the singer as a form of manipulation and told her he only achieved success with Beyoncé because they created a "sanctuary" together, which required Mangroe to "disclose all of her secrets and thoughts and become 'trust partners' with him." The plaintiff said this "sanctuary" relationship meant he saved good records for Beyoncé instead of Rihanna, who he said was "frustrated" with the situation.

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Mangroe said The-Dream soon began to pressure her into having sex as "part of the process," and she became convinced she "needed" him to make it in music, therefore becoming willing to take "any and all direction from him."

This manifested in her allegedly consuming drugs and alcohol at his request and being coerced into having violent sexual encounters with him. On one occasion, she said he locked her in a bedroom "naked, in the dark," and thereafter, she says he refused to wear protection despite her requests, and demanded she stop taking birth control. Mangroe says The-Dream increasingly became more violent and controlling during intimate encounters as she became more dependent on him for food and shelter.

The plaintiff alleges The-Dream would often place a gun next to her during sex, which she took to be a "warning." In another instance, Mangroe said she was forced to have a "physically painful" sexual encounter with The-Dream while in a movie theater with other patrons, and the same evening, she alleges he pinned her down in a tour van and forced her to have sex, during which she believes she lost consciousness.

The plaintiff asserts these actions in which the defendants "participated in and facilitated the harboring and transportation" of her for "purposes of sex induced by force, fraud and coercion" amount to sex trafficking, which she alleges they all financially benefited from.

It's a similar claim made in a recent lawsuit against Sean "Diddy" Combs. Mangroe's lawyers also represented Casandra Ventura, otherwise known as singer Cassie, who sued Combs in November for allegations of repeated physical and sexual abuse. The suit was settled soon after, but the claims recently resurfaced after a video of Combs assaulting Ventura in a hotel hallway was released by CNN.

Mangroe's attorneys mentioned the case and the multiple others against Combs in a statement to Scripps News' partner Court TV.

"This is yet another horrific example of how men in the music industry use their power and influence to manipulate and harm others," said the statement from Douglas H. Wigdor and Meredith Firetog, partners of Wigdor LLP. "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."

Mangroe also shared a statement with Court TV.

"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," the statement read. "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."

She is seeking a monetary judgment that includes consequential damages, lost wages, earnings and other money lost as a result of The-Dream's alleged abuse.