Beyoncé collaborator The-Dream accused of sex trafficking, abuse

The-Dream, a prolific songwriter and producer who has penned myriad hits for the world’s biggest pop and R&B acts, has been accused by a former protégée of sex trafficking, rape, strangulation and psychological manipulation in a lawsuit filed Tuesday morning.

The complaint was brought by Chanaaz Mangroe, known professionally as Channii Monroe, who worked with the famed producer in 2015. She alleges that Dream, whose legal name is Terius Gesteelde-Diamant, used his powerful standing in the music industry — particularly his professional relationships with Beyoncé and Rihanna — to manipulate Mangroe, then a young woman trying to break into the music industry.

“Under the guise of pursuing a legitimate recording and publishing contract with Ms. Mangroe, Dream lured the young and vulnerable artist into an abusive, violent, and manipulative relationship filled with physical assaults, violent sexual encounters, and horrific psychological manipulation,” the complaint states.

The lawsuit makes Gesteelde-Diamant the latest musician to face serious accusations of abuse that potentially implicate others in the music industry. Similar to recent accusations made against Sean “Diddy” Combs, Mangroe alleges that others in Gesteelde-Diamant’s orbit witnessed or aided in the abuse, which the suit claims lasted for more than a year.

An eight-time Grammy winner, Gesteelde-Diamant has worked on some of the biggest hits of the past 20 years, including Rihanna’s “Umbrella,” Justin Bieber’s “Baby” and Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies.” Shortly before meeting Mangroe in 2015, he served as executive vice president of A&R at Def Jam Recordings.

Gesteelde-Diamant has faced legal trouble before. He was arrested in 2014 on charges of felony assault, strangulation, reckless endangerment and child endangerment. Those charges, which stemmed from allegations that he beat his girlfriend, who was eight months pregnant at the time, were dropped the following year due to a lack of evidence. He was arrested again the next year on charges of felony assault, strangulation, reckless endangerment and child endangerment. Those charges were dropped the following year because of a lack of evidence.

In a statement shared with the New York Times, Gesteelde-Diamant denied the allegations.

“These claims are untrue and defamatory,” he said. “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.”

According to the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, Gesteelde-Diamant exerted control over nearly every aspect of Mangroe’s life and career between 2015 and 2016, manipulating her with promises of fame and a hit album. At the time, Mangroe, who is from the Netherlands, was 23 and living in the United States on an O-1B visa, given to foreigners with “extraordinary ability in the arts.”

Mangroe met Gesteelde-Diamant through one of his associates, who reached out to her on social media, the complaint says. In early 2015, Gesteelde-Diamant flew Mangroe to Atlanta, where he was working at the time, to record with her.

“Dream told her that he would make the next Beyoncé and Rihanna,” the lawsuit states. Gesteelde-Diamant claimed that he knew that Beyoncé was pregnant before her husband did and that Rihanna had disclosed to him when she lost her virginity, the lawsuit says. Representatives for Beyoncé and Rihanna did not respond to requests for comment.

Convinced that he would launch her career, Mangroe was “willing to take any and all direction from him,” the complaint adds.

In return, Gesteelde-Diamant demanded gratitude and complete compliance, the court papers say.

The lawsuit claims that Gesteelde-Diamant quickly assumed control over many aspects of Mangroe’s life: He put her up in a Residence Inn in Atlanta and kept a copy of her hotel key so he could come and go as he pleased, the complaint states. She was required to check in with him every day and was expected to stay in her room unless she was at the recording studio or at the gym, according to the lawsuit. He also began to regulate her social media accounts, the lawsuit alleges.

During this time, Gesteelde-Diamant became increasingly violent with her, according to the lawsuit. Before recording sessions, he would allegedly ply her with marijuana and alcohol and aggressively pressured her to have sex with him, telling her that it was part of “the process.” He allegedly refused to wear protection during their sexual encounters. Once, the complaint states, after a “walk through” of her hotel room, he demanded she throw away her birth control pills; he allegedly took it as a “sign of disrespect to prevent a pregnancy by him.”

According to the lawsuit, over the course of several months, Gesteelde-Diamant grew increasingly short-tempered and would repeatedly force Mangroe to have sex whenever he demanded, at one point recording an encounter. “Dream would later regularly use the recording to threaten Ms. Mangroe that he could share it with anyone he wanted,” the suit claims.

Mangroe alleges multiple violent sexual encounters, including one in which he allegedly forced her to have sex with him at a movie theater. According to the court filing, he allegedly raped and strangled her in a van outside of a recording studio.

When Mangroe asked to move hotels because of bedbugs in her room, Gesteelde-Diamant blew up at her: allegedly blaming her for delays on Beyoncé’s next album, demanding she apologize and strangling her, the complaint says.

Despite promises to advance her career — including an alleged opportunity to open for Beyoncé on tour — Mangroe said she was kept in the dark about the future of her album, as Gesteelde-Diamant maintained “complete control” over communications regarding her contracts, according to the lawsuit. When Mangroe began disclosing her abuse to Gesteelde-Diamant’s associates, she was told that it was a “personal” issue and that she had to work it out with Gesteelde-Diamant.

The lawsuit claims that one person told her: “Even if you see and know it’s chocolate, if Dream tells you it’s vanilla, it’s vanilla.”

Gesteelde-Diamant allegedly became vindictive in August 2015, after Mangroe attempted to distance herself from the producer. She alleges that he refused to turn over the music they made together and effectively derailed her career.

Mangroe is being represented by Douglas Wigdor and Meredith Firetog, who brought R&B singer Cassie Ventura’s lawsuit against Combs in November. The lawsuit was settled the next day, and it was the first of six lawsuits accusing Combs of sexual assault. Mangroe’s lawsuit was filed under California’s Sexual Abuse and Cover-Up Accountability Act, which extends the statute of limitations for sexual assault cases.

“This is yet another horrific example of how men in the music industry use their power and influence to manipulate and harm others,” her attorneys said.

In a statement, Mangroe said: “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.”

“Ultimately,” Mangroe added, “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.”

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