Nicki Minaj and husband Kenneth Petty’s accuser speaks in first TV interview: “I’m tired of being afraid”

"You can't intimidate people to make things go better for you, and that's what they did"

Content warning: This article contains discussion of alleged sexual assault.

Jennifer Hough, the woman who accused Nicki Minaj‘s husband Kenneth Petty of sexual assault in 1994 and recently filed a lawsuit against the couple for intimidation, has spoken out in a new interview.

Hough alleged Petty raped her at knifepoint in 1994, when they were both 16 years old. Petty was charged with first-degree attempted rape the following year, and pleaded guilty to attempted rape. He spent about four and a half years in prison as a result.

Last month, Hough filed a lawsuit against Petty and Minaj, accusing them of “witness intimidation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, harassment” and other charges. She is also suing Petty for sexual assault and battery in relation to the 1995 conviction.

In 2020, Petty was arrested in Los Angeles for failing to register as a sex offender, as required by his sentence. These later charges were eventually dropped but federal charges were brought, which resulted in Petty accepting a plea deal. He is scheduled for sentencing in January 2022, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Hough alleged that in 2020, shortly after Petty’s arrest, Minaj called her and offered to fly her and her family to Los Angeles, or Minaj’s publicist out to Hough. Hough said she declined and claims that within days, she and her family “suffered an onslaught of harassing calls and unsolicited visits”, including various offers of payment if she signed a statement recanting her original allegations against Petty. According to the New York Times, Hough alleged she was offered sums of $500,000 and $20,000.

Now, speaking in her first on-camera interview for The Real alongside her attorney, Tyrone A. Blackburn, Hough said she was speaking up because she “tired of being afraid”.

When asked if justice had been served following Petty’s conviction in 1995 and subsequent jail sentence, she responded tearfully: “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 that he did 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.”

Minaj and Petty have yet to publicly comment on the harassment lawsuit and Hough’s allegations. When their relationship became public in 2018, Minaj hit back at online scrutiny of Petty’s past as a sex offender, claiming that when Petty was convicted in 1995, it was over an incident where “he was 15, she was 16… in a relationship”. However, Hough and Petty were both 16 years old at the time, and Hough has denied she was in a relationship with Petty.

Minaj added at the time, “But go awf, Internet. Y’all can’t run my life. Y’all can’t even run y’all own life. Thank you boo.”

NME has contacted a representative for Minaj for comment.

Elsewhere in the The Real interview, Hough says she was “so afraid of being found out” when Minaj and Petty announced their marriage in October 2019.

Hough also repeated claims she made when she filed her lawsuit against Petty and Minaj in August, claiming that Minaj had offered to fly her and her family to LA to “help them out in a situation”, which she declined. “I told her, woman-to-woman, this really happened.”

Hough claims that when she refused an offer of $20,000, it was implied that the money would turn into a bounty. “The last message I received was that I should have taken the money, because they’re going to use that money to put on my head,” she said.

When asked what she wants from the lawsuit, Hough said: “To let [Petty and Minaj] know that they were wrong and you can’t do this to people. You shouldn’t do this to people.

“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, it doesn’t matter what your status is. You can’t intimidate people to make things go better for you, and that’s what they did.

“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.”

For help, advice or more information regarding sexual harassment, assault and rape in the UK, visit the Rape Crisis charity website. In the US, visit RAINN.