She’s been silent for too long – that’s why she’s decided to finally speak out.
In an emotional TV interview, Jennifer Hough opened up about being sexually assaulted by Nicki Minaj’s husband, Kenneth Petty, in 1994, as well as the $500 000 lawsuit she recently filed against the couple. Jennifer accused the rapper and the music industry exec of harassment and intimidation after claiming they threatened her.
“I felt like the actions that were taken in regard to this whole situation have put me in a different type of fear. It was wrong. And I don’t want to be afraid anymore, so the only way not to be afraid is to continue to speak up,” she told The Real’s co-hosts earlier this week.
Jennifer (43), who was accompanied by her lawyer Tyrone A Blackburn, got candid about her ordeal. She says she was only 16 at the time and Kenneth, also a teenager, led her to a house where he raped her.
“Before you know it, he was grabbing a hold of my jacket. I felt something in my back, so I just assumed there was a gun. And I started walking. And I’m pleading with him the whole way, trying to understand what he wants,” she said, breaking down.
Kenneth said she “knew what he wanted” when she first tried to fight back, Jennifer says.
“All I could do was hold my pants as tight as I can. I didn’t know why it didn’t dawn on me to like really fight. I just held on to my pants and he held my arms down and squeezed the sides of my stomach so hard. I let go and as soon as I let go, he grabbed my pants. It was like a tug of war and after a while I just got tired.”
She claims he later stood in front of the mirror, beating his chest and saying, “I am the man.”
Jennifer went to the police and Kenneth eventually pleaded guilty and was convicted of attempted first-degree rape a year later. He served four years in New York State Prison for the incident before he was released in 1999.
But for Jennifer the matter didn’t end there. She says her whole life was uprooted, and she had to leave her family and home and start all over again.
“I don’t think I thought about justice per se because I was still blaming myself and thought it was something that I did or didn’t do. I don’t think I thought about if I got justice. I just knew what he did, and he went to jail, and I had to leave my family. I had to leave my home. And I had to move away.”
Years later Nicki, who married Kenneth in 2019, claimed Kenneth and Jennifer had been in a relationship at the time of the assault.
“He was 15, she was 16, in a relationship. But go awf, Internet. Y’all can’t run my life. Y’all can’t even run y’all own life. Thank you boo,” she said defending him after fans expressed concern over the fact she was married to a sex offender.
But Jennifer says Minaj’s claims aren’t true. She says they were never in a relationship, she just “knew him from the neighbourhood”.
In July this year Jennifer sued the couple, claiming they harassed and intimidated her to retract her 1994 rape allegations. She brought several claims against the Barbie Dreams rapper and her husband, including emotional distress, intimidation, harassment, assault and battery.
This is not the first time Kenneth has had trouble with the law. He may not use drugs, including marijuana, and failure to comply could land him in prison for up to 10 years. He was also arrested last year after failing to register as a sex offender but has since registered on the California Megan’s Law database.
According to Jennifer, Nicki called her in March 2020 saying she “got word” that she was willing to help them in the situation, referring to the allegations in her complaint. “I didn’t understand what she was referring to. She offered to fly me and my family to LA. I turned it down. And I told her, woman to woman, this really happened,” she says.
Jennifer says the final straw that led to the lawsuit was when Nicki and Kenneth harassed her by sending people to her family to negotiate a fee to retract her story.
“Nicki is the one who personally reached out to me, in regard to helping her, helping them in this situation. And then the threats that I received because I kept saying no to every offer, to every suggestion. The last incident was when one of their associates put $20 000 on my lap. And I still kept saying no,” Jennifer adds.
Jennifer wants people to know you can’t just use money to intimidate people to make things better like Nicki and Kenneth did. “He did something a long time ago and he had consequences that he was supposed to stick with. What they did to me and my family wasn’t OK. It wasn’t right and it doesn’t matter how much money you have,” she says.
“I want my daughters to know that as they grow, as they experience life, as they come in contact with friends, family, strangers, whatever, that they'll have the strength to know that they have a voice, and they should use it. And don’t ever let anybody try to silence them.”
SOURCES: THEDAILYBEAST.COM, YOUTUBE.COM/THEREAL, FOXNEWS.COM, USATODAY.COM, PEOPLE.COM, NEWS24.COM, BUZZFEED.COM