The following report includes descriptions of sexual assault, harassment, and threats of physical violence.
In her first on-screen interview, Jennifer Hough—the woman who is suing Nicki Minaj and Kenneth Petty for harassment and intimidation—is speaking out about the lawsuit and the tactics the couple has allegedly taken to pressure her into recanting her story and dropping the aforementioned lawsuit.
Hough Details The Alleged Rape
On the daytime talk show, The Real, Hough and her lawyer, Tyrone Blackburn, sat with hosts Adrienne Houghton and Garcelle Beauvais, as Hough recounted the sexual assault and the events that followed over the past 27 years. Tearfully, she reflected back on Sept. 16, 1994. It was a Friday morning in Jamaica, Queens when a 16-year-old Hough was headed to school. She spotted Petty, a 16-year-old boy she knew from the neighborhood, across the street at a bus stop.
“I didn’t think anything of it, other than there goes Kenny,” she stated. They briefly engaged in small talk and soon after, Hough claimed he “grabbed hold of her jacket.” She described what she assumed was a weapon against her back as he led her to a house. He allegedly pushed her up the steps and she began crying. She continued to plead with him. “We wrestled for my clothes because all I could do was hold my pants like this as tight as I can […] It was like a tug ‘o war,” she recalled.
After the alleged assault, Hough stated that Petty stood in front of the mirror and beat his chest three times, repeating the phrase, “I’m the man.” After throwing a large bottle of cleaning product at him and pushing him between beds, she was able to escape, ran to her high school, and explained what happened to a security guard who immediately called the police. Petty was arrested and charged with first-degree rape. He pled guilty to attempted rape and served four years in prison.
Why Hough Finally Decided To Speak Her Truth
Hough explained that she decided to speak out because she’s “tired of being afraid.” She feels “the actions that were taken in regards to this situation has put [her] in a different type of fear” and ultimately, “the only way not to be afraid is to continue to speak up.” Hough also asserted that before the assault she and Petty were nothing more than casual acquaintances, despite claims from Minaj on Instagram that the two were “in a relationship.”
When Beauvais asked Hough if she felt justice was served, she tearfully explained, “I don’t think I thought about justice, per se, because I was still blaming myself. I 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 he did what he did and went to jail. I had to leave my family. I had to leave my home and I had to move away. So, yeah, I never really gave it much thought.”
On how the assault and events that followed affected her over the years, Hough added, “[I’ve been] hiding within myself, living, and surviving through insecurities, using them to protect myself. Thinking that if I don’t look a certain way I won’t attract a certain type of attention. I’ve been like that my whole life.”
When it was first announced that Minaj and Petty wed back in 2019, Hough was worried about “being found out.” She also felt “woman to woman” that Minaj was “wrong” for her comments about Hough and Petty’s alleged relationship. “It was like reliving it again because it was a lie. It wasn’t true. […] I don’t know you and you don’t know me to know that that the statement you put out to the world to be true.”
Hough’s Lawyer Explains Her Lawsuit
In 2020, Petty was arrested for failing to register as a sex offender in California. Hough felt his failure to do so “would open up a can of worms for me and my family.” On the lawsuit Hough filed this past August for “harassment and witness intimidation, as well as intentional infliction of emotional distress,” as stated by the New York Times, Blackburn explained, “Let’s just be clear: We would not be here but for the actions of Kenneth Petty and Nicki Minaj.”
He continued, “The lawsuit deals with two things: first it deals with the crime of 1994 when Kenneth Petty raped Jennifer and it also deals with the actions of 2020 when Nicki Minaj and Kenneth Petty decided to send their associates to Jennifer and harass her for a several months’ span to get her to recant her story from 1994 in order to get him off of the sex offender registry. So the lawsuit deals with harassment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, sexual harassment, and sexual assault.”
Hough Says A $20,000 Bounty Was Put On Her Head
Hough explained how an associate of Minaj and Petty came to her place of residence while others called her family members, including ones she herself had not had contact with in years, to bribe them. Her daughter was even approached in a club and asked about Petty.
She also revealed that she received a phone call from Minaj in March of 2020 when the rapper “got word” that Hough would “help them out in a situation.” During the conversation, Hough said Minaj “offered to fly me and my family to L.A.,” which she turned down.
“I told her, woman to woman, this really happened. And I hadn’t spoken to her since,” shared Hough, adding, “Nicki is the one who personally reached out to me…in regards to helping her, helping them, in this situation.”
Hough said she received multiple threats because she continued to deny their alleged bribes, detailing a particularly frightening encounter.
“The last incident was when one of their associates put $20,000 on my lap and I still kept saying no. The last message I received was that I should’ve taken the money ’cause they’re gonna use that money to put on my head,” she alleged.
Blackburn chimed in to explain. “This associate that she is referring to is the same guy who recently posted an Instagram video threatening to kill or to do bodily harm to Jennifer. This post came literally six days after Kenneth Petty accepted a plea deal here in California for failing to register as a sex offender.”
“This is the same guy who showed up at Jennifer’s house with the $20,000 and put it in her lap with a pre-written recantment statement that he tried to force her to sign on behalf of Nicki Minaj and Kenneth Petty. This is the same associate that sent Jennifer a text message from Kenneth Petty with Nicki Minaj’s phone number informing her that this is the number that you’ll receive a call from and that number was the one that called her,” Blackburn continued.
Petty and Minaj’s lawyers and representatives declined to comment when contacted by The Real. According to reports, Petty is facing a maximum prison sentence of 10 years, a lifetime of supervised release with a potential minimum sentence of five years of supervised release, and a $100 court assessment fee. His sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 24, 2022.
Above, watch Jennifer Hough’s full interview on The Real and a follow-up discussion about the misconceptions surrounding sexual assault below.