Songwriter Behind Pop Hits Accused Of Sex Trafficking Aspiring Singer

A Grammy award-winning songwriter behind hits for artists such as Beyoncé and Rihanna was accused on Tuesday of abuse and sex trafficking by a woman who said she believed he’d help launch her music career.

Terius Gesteelde-Diamant, 46, known professionally as The-Dream, was sued by singer Chanaaz Mangroe, 33, who claimed she was lured into a “manipulative relationship” filled with “violent sexual encounters” under the guise of a legitimate contract, according to a lawsuit obtained by HuffPost.

The suit, filed on Tuesday, said that The-Dream’s alleged abuse was made possible with “corporate funding” by Contra Paris LLC, a record label he launched with Jay Z, and Epic Records, a Sony Music owned record label, both of which are also named in the civil action.

Sony Music, did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for a comment.

Gesteelde-Diamant denied the abuse allegations claims in a statement to the New York Times on Tuesday.

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

 The-Dream performs at 2024 Roots Picnic at Fairmount Park on June 1 in Philadelphia.
The-Dream performs at 2024 Roots Picnic at Fairmount Park on June 1 in Philadelphia.

Astrida Valigorsky via Getty Images

Mangroe met The-Dream in 2015, when she was 23. Originally from the Netherlands, she was working in the U.S. on a visa. As the visa was close to expiring, she’d been trying to focus on her music career, the lawsuit said. She was thrilled when a member of The-Dream’s security detail reached out to her through social media, the suit said, and the producer ultimately offered to work with her in Atlanta, where she hoped to “land her big break.”

The-Dream manipulated Mangroe into a relationship by promising he could secure her an extension of her visa, the suit claimed. The-Dream also promised he would write her hit songs and have her open for Beyoncé’s next tour, the lawsuit said.

Instead, Mangroe’s lawyers said, her experience was “nothing short of a prolonged nightmare.”

The lawsuit alleged that The-Dream forced Mangroe to have sex with her and abused her in other ways, including by pressuring her to drink and do drugs. Some of the alleged forced sexual encounters were filmed, the suit said, and The-Dream allegedly used those videos as threats to “silence” her. He also tracked her location and controlled her housing, food and transportation.

The lawsuit claimed that because of the alleged abuse Mangroe endured, her career was upended and her music was taken from her without compensation.

In a statement shared with HuffPost, Mangroe said choosing to speak out has been one of the most difficult decisions of her life.

“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,” Mangroe said. “Ultimately, 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.”

For years, The-Dream was known as a songwriter and producer of pop and R&B hits for celebrated women performers, like Rihanna’s “Umbrella” and Beyonce’s “Single Ladies.” In an interview with New York Magazine in 2010, he said he had a “soft spot for women.”

“Man’s biggest enemy is a woman who has it in for them. I just like being around them, watching, soaking up the information, being cursed out, being put out,” he told the publication.

In 2014, he was arrested and accused of assaulting his pregnant ex-girlfriend at the Plaza Hotel In New York City, the New York Daily News reported. The charges were dropped the following year.

Mangroe’s lawsuit was filed by Douglas H. Wigdor and Meredith Firetog, who also represented Cassie Ventura, the singer who sued hip-hop mogul Diddy, Sean Combs, for rape and abuse. That suit was quickly settled.

In a joint statement shared with HuffPost, the lawyers called Mangroe’s case “yet another horrific example of how men in the music industry use their power and influence to manipulate and harm others.”

“Dream, like Sean Combs did with Ms. Ventura and others, used his standing as a prominent recording artist and producer to subject Ms. Mangroe to vicious physical, psychological, and sexual abuse.”

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