Following news Sunday that a lawyer is seeking criminal inquiries into T.I. and his wife Tameka “Tiny” Harris over multiple accusations of sexual abuse and assault, the couple is now facing a defamation lawsuit.
Sabrina Peterson filed the suit against T.I. (real name Clifford J. Harris Jr.) and Harris on Monday (March 1) in Los Angeles Superior Court, claiming T.I. threatened her with a gun and then recently denied. Hairdresser Shekinah Jones Anderson, who has appeared on T.I. and Tiny’s reality show, T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle, is also named as a defendant. Peterson is suing for libel, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress, among other causes of action.
Peterson, a business coach and founder of Glam University — described as an online education program for “the modern female boss” — says she has known T.I. and Tiny for more than a decade. At one point during their acquaintance, Peterson alleges that T.I. put a gun to her head and said, “Bitch I’ll kill you,” according to her 16-page complaint. It wasn’t until this year, on Jan. 26, after what Peterson calls a “traumatic carjacking” that she decided to share the details of her alleged assault by T.I. on social media. Peterson also posted to Instagram Stories other women’s accusations claiming T.I. and Tiny force-fed them drugs and then had sex with them. (T.I. and Harris’ attorney issued a statement on their behalf “emphatically” denying the claims.)
From there, Peterson alleges that T.I., Harris and Anderson all made defamatory comments about her on social media.
Harris, Peterson says, responded with a post directed at her, saying, “You strange” and “Everybody know you been special,” and included a picture of Peterson’s 8-year-old son. T.I. subsequently posted a video to his Instagram followers denying Peterson’s claim and that he had ever drugged, raped or held anyone against their will. Anderson also posted a video where she accused Peterson of engaging in sexual acts with T.I. and Tiny, according to the complaint. All these actions, Peterson says, were defamatory, and since coming forward with her allegations against T.I she says she has been inundated with harassing and threatening messages.
T.I. and Tiny’s attorney Andrew Brettler of Lavely & Singer denied that his clients ever said anything defamatory against Peterson.
“Ms. Peterson is the definition of ‘libel proof,’” said Brettler in a statement to Billboard. “She has a lengthy rap sheet for crimes involving dishonesty and violence. Nothing our clients may have said about her is defamatory. Ultimately, not only will Peterson’s meritless lawsuit be dismissed, but also she will be responsible for paying the legal fees the Harrises will be forced to incur in connection with it.”
Peterson’s lawsuit comes the same day that Tyrone Blackburn, a New York attorney, held a press conference announcing that he represents 11 individuals — 10 women and one man — who all claim that they have been victims of T.I. and Harris. The individuals alleged the couple “have kidnapped them, drugged them, raped them, and terrorized them with threats of death or physical bodily harm,” according to Blackburn, who also is one of the attorneys representing Peterson. The individuals’ allegations, which were first reported by The New York Times on Sunday, reached out to Peterson and Blackburn to share their stories of alleged abuse.
Blackburn said this morning during a Zoom press conference that he sent a letter detailing his clients’ allegations to the Georgia U.S. Attorney in the Northern District, the California U.S. Attorney in the Central District, the state attorneys general of California and Georgia, and the Los Angeles District Attorney Office imploring them to open an investigation into the couple.
“These women are unaware of each other, and without any leading on my part, they recount eerily similar events of sexual abuse, forced ingestion of illegal narcotics, kidnapping, terroristic threats, and false imprisonment,” Blackburn wrote in his letter to the California Attorney General urging him to open an investigation.
When reached for comment, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office told Billboard, “To protect its integrity, we’re unable to comment on a potential or ongoing investigation.”
Steve Sadow, Atlanta based attorney for the T.I. and Tiny, strongly denied the allegations against his clients and provided this statement on their behalf:
“Clifford and Tameka Harris deny in the strongest possible terms these unsubstantiated and baseless allegations,” said Sadow. “We are confident that if these claims are thoroughly and fairly investigated, no charges will be forthcoming. These allegations are nothing more than the continuation of a sordid shakedown campaign that began on social media. The Harrises implore everyone not to be taken in by these obvious attempts to manipulate the press and misuse the justice system.”