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What To Know About the Sexual Assault Case Against Nicki Minaj's Husband

Nicki Minaj and husband Kenneth Petty seen at a Marc Jacobs NYFW event in Manhattan on February 12, 2020 in New York City.

Photo by Robert Kamau for GC Images via Getty Images.

What To Know About the Sexual Assault Case Against Nicki Minaj's Husband

The key players, details, and developments in the sexual assault case against Nicki Minaj's husband, Kenneth Petty.

Recently, Kenneth Petty, the disgraced husband of rap star Nicki Minaj, has been sentenced to serve 120 days of house arrest by a California court for violating the terms of his probation, after posting several videos of himself and two other men threatening Offset.

According to the LA Times, legal documents filed in the Central District of California ordered Petty to another round of house arrest for "making threatening remarks towards a specific individual while in the company of someone with a criminal record." In two separate clips circulating on Twitter and Instagram, Petty can be seen and heard explicitly addressing the Migos rapper, threatening to "knock them veneers out," while another man in the video tells Offset he should be "planning your funeral."

Petty's probation and return to home detention stem from a 1995 attempted rape conviction, for which he pleaded guilty and served four years in a New York prison. As a result of the conviction, Petty was mandated to register as a sex offender in his state of residence. When he was pulled over for a traffic violation in Los Angeles in 2019 (the same year his marriage to Minaj went public), it was discovered that Petty had failed to register in the state of California — where he was and is currently living — which brought Petty's rape conviction back into the fold and put Minaj on the side of a convicted sex offender. But in the nearly 30 years between the initial assault, Petty's conviction, and its resurgence, much of the case's context has been lost in internet chatter and deliberate efforts to silence its victim, Jennifer Hough, who filed suit against the couple for harassment in 2021.

To make sense of Petty's case, as well as his current legal battles with Hough and her supporters, we've collected all of the key players, developments, and details, below.

Who Is Jennifer Hough, the Alleged Sexual Assault Victim of Kenneth Petty?

Jennifer Hough, the alleged sexual assault victim grew up in South Jamaica, Queens similar to Petty and Minaj. According to The Daily Beast, Jennifer, Minaj, and Petty are interconnected. Her brother allegedly shares a cousin with Petty, she also shared her estranged adoptive cousin, Shiran Grayson, lived with Minaj’s friend TT at one point.

The Details Surrounding The Original Case

Court records obtained by The Blast indicated that Petty and the victim were 16 at the time of the assault, the incident reportedly occurred in September of 1994. According to documents, the victim had been walking to school when Petty walked up behind her, pressing an object to her back and instructed her to “keep walking.” Next, the two eventually arrived at Petty’s residence, he then allegedly forced her upstairs and began to rape her at knifepoint. The victim then struck him with a bottle to escape. Upon his arrest, Petty denied the rape allegation, per the court documents. Following the assault, Jennifer went to school and immediately reported the incident. A close friend then picked her up from the hospital and gave her a ride home. Once she was back home she told her adoptive mother what happened.

Jennifer added Petty’s parents responded to his arrest by telling her adoptive family that the two were dating. According to Jennifer, the two were not a couple. Months after Petty’s arrest, his friends reportedly harassed her family so aggressively that her adoptive aunt brought Jennifer to the courthouse to drop the charges. She did not drop the charges, instead, she moved to Florida while the case proceeded. In 1995 Petty was convicted of one count of attempted rape in the first degree, assault in the second degree, unlawful imprisonment in the second degree, and criminal possession of a weapon. He was given an 18 to 54-month prison sentence but served nearly four years before his release in January 1999.

Nicki Minaj’s Public Comments On The Case

In 2019, Nicki Minaj announced she was officially married to Kenneth "Zoo" Petty. The rapper excitedly shared the news with her fans on her popular Apple Music show Queen Radio. The pair had allegedly been dating since 2018. In a previous interview with The Shade Room, she alluded to the fact that she’d been dreaming of her wedding day since she was a child. By the time Nicki announced her marriage, fans already knew Petty was a registered sex offender. At one point in 2019, she responded to the backlash she’d received for marrying him by declaring her husband had been wrongfully accused of attempted rape at 15. She also stated his victim had written a letter to the judge in 1995 requesting to recant her statement. According to the rapper, when the victim figured out she would go to jail for 90 days she decided to not recant.In December 2018 after receiving backlash from fans for dating Kenneth Petty, Nicki Minaj defended him in her Instagram comments.

In regards to the rape charges, the rapper wrote, “He was 15, she was 16… in a relationship. But go awf, Internet.” “When you’re somebody's wife, you’ve gotta be even more prayed up,” Minaj declared during a 2019 episode of Queen Radio. “Because you’ve gotta cover your husband in prayer.” This was a direct response to criticism that was raised after Nicki announced she married Petty. She also added, “But white is right,” spreading the belief that the victim from the 1994 case was a white woman. But, the victim is a Black woman. In November that same year following Wendy Williams speaking on Petty’s brushes with the law during her “Hot Topics” segment of an October episode of her show, Minaj issued a response via Queen Radio. “I didn’t know that in our society, you have to be plagued by your past. I didn't know that people can't turn over a new leaf. I didn't know that your viciousness and evilness was this deep-rooted.”

Jennifer Hough's Lawsuit Against the Couple for Harassment

Jennifer Hough's lawsuit explicitly accuses Minaj and Petty, a registered sex offender of "attempting to intimidate her into recanting her rape accusation," reports People. Hough is seeking unspecified damages, additionally, the lawsuit accused the couple of "intentional infliction of emotional distress and alleges sexual assault and battery, referring to the 1994 incident." People states Petty and Minaj "directly and indirectly" intimidated and harassed and attempted to bribe Hough. According to the lawsuit the bribery attempts were done in hopes that the alleged victim would recant that Petty raped her. "As a direct result of the actions of Defendant Minaj and Defendant Petty, Plaintiff has been traumatized her entire life," the suit read. "Plaintiff has never felt safe since being raped by Defendant."

According to The Daily Beast, Jennifer alleges Petty’s friends and associates begun harassing her and her family again years after the original case. Fans also have taken to social media and comment sections of blogs to discredit her sexual assault story. Days after Petty’s 2020 arrest, Jennifer says a man named Barry who she remembers was close to her brother when they were children reached out to her. He mentioned Minaj and Petty when they spoke, but she didn’t find this strange. He also offered to make the case “go away.”Barry then allegedly shared that Minaj wanted to speak with her. She recalls she didn’t believe this was true. But admits her phone rang and it was the rapper on the line. At this point, Jennifer says it appeared the Pettys were aiming to nail down a non-disclosure agreement that would mean they would not speak on the case publicly, and neither would she. Jennifer recalls Minaj telling her she wanted her to have her number, but they never spoke again. Then Jennifer says her estranged brother reached out to her within days of her speaking with Minaj. He told her a man named Jamie from New York called a cousin in North Carolina to allegedly offer $500,000 if Jennifer spoke with a lawyer who represented Petty. She did not call the lawyer.

Hough eventually dropped her suit against Minaj. And despite the suit with Petty getting heated, a judge ordered both parties to settle the case, sending it to mediation in late 2022. However, the case remains unresolved at this time.

What Other Claims Come Up in the Lawsuit?

The allegations that previously mentioned Minaj’s publicist potentially being flown to Hough to discuss writing a statement also appear in the suit. Per The New York Times, Hough “has not worked since May of 2020 due to severe depression, paranoia, constant moving, harassment and threats from the defendants and their associates,” read the lawsuit. “She is currently living in isolation out of fear of retaliation.”

Amid the above, Barry reportedly wanted Jennifer to pen a letter recanting the rape allegation from 1994. Scared of retaliation, she stalled and expressed worry over being sent back to court. He responded by sending her details on New York’s statute of limitations. He also had her speak with numerous lawyers in attempts to sway her. After she stopped speaking with the lawyers, she alleges the harassment was ongoing. Barry parked outside of her home and offered her $20,000 in cash if she would sign a letter he’d written recanting the assault. She told him she was not taking the money. Her brother then called her another time at the start of June asking if she was OK. He mentioned their cousin had called another time and that “they” or the “OGs from the neighborhood” allegedly working for Petty knew where she lived.

After this call, she moved from her home in Georgia as she feared for her life. Since then she’s moved twice to two different homes in Georgia, once in August 2020 and another time in October. Both moves were prompted by contact with individuals she believes were on behalf of Nicki Minaj and Kenneth Petty. She has since left Georgia. In November 2020, she came forward for the first time in a YouTube video. In the clip, she expressed the harassment she’d endured and also touched on the facts surrounding the case.

Evidence From The Original Rape Trial Submitted in Hough's Suit Against Petty

Two years after Hough's legal team made the request, the Queens District Attorney’s Office finally dug up the evidence originally submitted during Petty's original rape trial. Per a follow-up report fromThe Daily Beast, Hough's attorney obtained her medical exam reports, a transcript of Petty's guilty plea, and photos of his client taken just after the attack showing injuries to her head and neck. According to the report, Hough "just wanted to show proof that I didn’t lie on this man. I did exactly what I was supposed to do. When it happened, I went to the police. I went to the hospital. I had a rape kit done.”

Petty Has Also Faced Other Issues With the Law

He pleaded guilty to manslaughter in 2006. This was a reduction from an original charge, murder in the second degree following a plea bargain. An original complaint surrounding this case alleges Petty was responsible for the shooting death of Lamont Robinson. He went on to serve seven years of his 10-year sentence before being released in 2013. Per People, he was on supervised release for five years. In March 2020, Petty was arrested for failing to register as a sex offender in California where he currently lives. On Thursday, September 9th, Petty pleaded guilty to the charge. Petty faced a maximum 10-year sentence in federal prison and a lifetime of supervised release and a fine. With the minimum sentence, Petty could have gotten a five-year period of supervised release. On July 6th, 2022, Petty was finally sentenced after pleading guilty to the charge, receiving three years of probation, a year of home arrest, and a $55,000 fine.

Minaj and Petty Also Sued Hough's Supporters

According to The Cut, Minaj and Petty went after Hough's advocates as well. In September of 2022, Minaj filed a defamation suit against Marley Green, a vlogger who creates content under the name "Nosey Heaux, " for calling her "cokehead" and making disparaging remarks about Minaj's child. The rapper sought out $75,000 in damages from Green, but her attorney made it clear the rapper was hoping Green couldn't pay up so that Minaj could claim her trademark and ensure Green was no longer able to release content under her name. Green, on the other hand, is convinced the suit has less to do with her name-calling than her support of Hough. Green also claims that she was the one who "introduced" and encouraged Hough to file the harassment suit against Petty and Minaj.

This story was originally published in March 2021. It was updated on September 10th, 2021, and again on September 22nd, 2023.