the law

T.I. and Tiny Sued for Defamation Amid Sexual Assault Allegations

Photo: Prince Williams/Getty Images for PUMA

T.I. and Tiny Harris have been sued for defamation, among other claims, by the first woman to accuse them of assault. Sabrina Peterson, an Atlanta entrepreneur, filed a lawsuit against T.I., born Clifford Harris, and Tiny, born Tameka Harris, on March 1 in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. The filing includes two claims of defamation, invasion of privacy, two claims of interference with prospective economic advantage, and two claims of infliction of emotional distress, for unspecified damages, according to a copy obtained by Vulture. In January, Peterson claimed on Instagram that T.I. had once held her at gunpoint. A lawyer for T.I. and Tiny denied allegations of defamation to Vulture, after a rep for the couple previously denied Peterson’s allegations when they were first made. “Ms. Peterson is the definition of ‘libel proof,’” said Andrew Bettler, the couple’s lawyer. “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.”

In the days after Peterson’s initial allegation, made on January 26, she received and publicized dozens of allegations of sexual assault, abuse, and drugging against T.I. and his wife Tiny on Instagram. MTV paused production on T.I. and Tiny’s reality series Friends & Family Hustle in response. Peterson’s suit comes after 11 new victims have accused T.I. and Tiny of sexual assault, abuse, and drugging, among other allegations. T.I. and Tiny denied those allegations through a separate lawyer; Peterson’s case pertains to T.I. and Tiny’s denials of her initial claims.

After Peterson began publicizing claims against T.I., Tiny posted a photo to Instagram of T.I. with Peterson’s 8-year-old son on January 26. “He was just uncle two years ago … 🤔now when did you say my husband assaulted you?” Tiny wrote in the caption. She went on, “You strange. Everybody know you been special.” Along with the couple’s statement, T.I. further denied the initial allegations against him in an eight-minute Instagram video on January 29. Peterson claims in the filing she “has been inundated with harassing and threatening Instagram messages” from T.I. and Tiny’s followers after their denials; she further claims the statements made by T.I. and Tiny affected her businesses, in addition to being allegedly false.

Further, Peterson’s suit is also against T.I. and Tiny’s friend Shekinah Jones Anderson, a.k.a. Shekinah Jo, who has appeared on the couple’s MTV reality series T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle along with Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta. Anderson defended T.I. and Tiny against Peterson’s initial allegations in an Instagram Live on January 29 and claimed that Peterson was sexually involved with T.I. and Tiny. “She ain’t talking about how she fucked Tameka too,” Anderson said. “I said what I said. Why she ain’t talking about she done sucked his dick and fucked her in her pussy?” Peterson’s lawsuit claims Anderson’s statements are false as well, noting that Anderson took back her statements in a subsequent Instagram Live. When reached by Vulture for comment, a representative for Anderson said she was unaware of the filing.

Peterson’s lawyers — the California-based law firm Ivie McNeill Wyatt Purcell & Diggs, with New York–based T.A. Blackburn Law — released a statement on the filing. “A person’s choice of words, especially words from public figures with millions of followers on social media, causes and has caused Ms. Peterson to suffer internal scars,” the lawyers told Vulture. “These salacious words may not have caused physical harm but they did destroy Ms. Peterson’s soul, reputation and causes irreparable harm to her business and her brand. T.I., Tiny, nor Ms. Jones can un-ring that bell.”

T.I. and Tiny Sued for Defamation Amid Assault Allegations