R&B artist 50 Cent has been subject to court-ordered fines for a minimum of $5 million on Friday after a woman filed a lawsuit against the rapper for publishing her sex tape online. Lastonia Leviston, mother of rap rival Rick Ross’ daughter, explained to the jury how 50 Cent had acquired the sex tape she had filmed with her boyfriend before recording crude narration over the film and publishing the full video online.
While the minimum $5 million in damages has been set by courts this week, Manhattan-based jurors are said to be continuing deliberation during the coming week on potentially issuing further punitive damages in Leviston’s gross invasion-of-privacy lawsuit.
The current fines are the result of $2.5 million awarded for using Leviston’s image without her approval, as well as a further $2.5 million awarded for intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The 13-minute tape had originally been recorded back in 2008, when 50 Cent received the tape from Leviston’s then boyfriend. 50 Cent attempted to use the tape a means of berating rival artist Rick Ross, as the pair had been engaged in throwing sharp words against one another during interviews and within their own lyrics.
50 Cent released the altered video online after donning a wig, playing a character he dubbed “Pimpin’ Curly,” and recording an explicit and crude narration layered over the top of the tape. During the narration, 50 Cent paid particular attention to making remarks about Leviston herself, including referring to her as a porn star, as well as attacking Rick Ross himself.
Leviston described herself as horrified and humiliated after the video surfaced online.
“This was something done to me. I didn’t have a choice,” Leviston emphasised during her testimonial. “I would never, ever do this to myself.”
While 50 Cent did not appear in court to give a testimonial, sworn pre-trial questioning had been recorded prior to the trial and subsequently played for jurors. 50 Cent denied having maliciously released the tape into the public airwaves, but had been given permission from Leviston’s then boyfriend, who reportedly told 50 Cent Leviston would not oppose the video being published online — statements 50 Cent had thought to be sufficient consent.
Artist and now businessman 50 Cent stated that the character of Pimpin’ Curly had been farcical, and he meant the comments jokingly rather than as an attack on Leviston’s character.
Attorney William A. Brewer III, representing 50 Cent during the case, stated that both 50 Cent and his legal team are “disappointed in the verdict but very appreciative of the service of the jury and the court.”
[Image credit: David Becker via Getty Images]