The victim in the 1994 sexual assault case that sent Kenneth ‘Zoo’ Petty — who is now Nicki Minaj’s husband — to prison for four years is now speaking out publicly about the campaign she says the couple has been waging to force her to recant her story about Petty raping her when they were both teenagers.
During an appearance on “The Real,” Jennifer Hough appeared alongside her attorney, Tyrone Blackburn to discuss the ongoing legal battle between her, the Grammy-winning rapper and her husband.
When asked by co-host Garcelle Beauvais why she waited so long to speak out, the 43-year-old expressed that she was “tired of being afraid.” She continued, “I feel like the actions that were taken in regards to this whole situation have put me in a different type of fear at my age now and it was wrong and I don’t’ want to be afraid anymore. So, the only way not to be afraid is to continue to speak up.”
Last month, Hough sued the couple, claiming they tried to force her to recant her 1994 story. She also claimed the pair bribed her with money and a trip to Los Angeles, California — which she said she refused. Hough said she was even paid a visit by Minaj’s lawyer, who allegedly further tried to convince her to change her story.
While recalling her experience, Hough revealed she spoke to Minaj, who allegedly reached out first in March of last year. “She said that she got word that I was willing to help them out in a situation,” Hough claimed. “I told her, woman to woman, this really happened and I hadn’t spoken to her since.”
Over the years since the incident, Petty’s family has maintained he and Hough were dating at the time of the attack. However, when asked about his family’s remarks, the woman denied those claims, telling the hosts, “We were never in a relationship, ever.”
She added, “No type of romantic anything. We never talked on the phone. We never hung out together. I just knew him from the neighborhood.”
The rapper has also spoken out about the allegations against her husband on social media after receiving backlash from her fans for marrying a sex offender, calling them false. In an exchange with a fan the rapper wrote “he was 15, she 16…in a relationship.” She added, “But go awf, Internet.”
Petty denied the rape allegation upon his arrest when Hough reported the incident the day it happened. Hough eventually moved to Florida before the trial to escape what she’s called increasing harassment from those close to Petty.
Ultimately, the teenager was convicted at a trial in 1995 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 served only four years in prison before his release in January 1999, whereupon was required to register as a sex offender.
After a second stint in prison of seven years following his 2006 guilty plea to manslaughter, he was released in 2013 and married Minaj in 2019. The following year he failed to comply with sex offender registration rules in California and in March 2020 he was arrested by U.S. Marshals.
But even as Petty is still subject to the courts, Hough tearfully admitted to the show hosts she hadn’t “thought about justice per se because I was still blaming myself.”
“I thought it was something that I did or didn’t do. So I don’t think I thought about if I got justice” she added. “I just knew 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. So, yeah, I never really gave it much thought.”
Hough said the incident has had long-lasting effects on her over the years, but more significantly on her confidence, stating she’s even had to police herself, “thinking that if I don’t look a certain way, I won’t attract a certain type of attention.”
The victim’s message to the Pettys: “What they did to me and my family wasn’t okay, and it was 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.”