Auburn detectives are just starting their investigation into a 21-year-old woman’s claim that she was sexually assaulted by rapper Nelly while he was in the Seattle area for a concert this past weekend.
Meanwhile, attorneys for the 42-year-old rapper and his alleged victim began trading jabs, with Nelly’s attorney calling the accuser a “vindictive” liar and the victim’s attorney decrying what she says is a public attempt to shame and intimidate her client.
“What kind of a world do we live in when someone who thinks they have been raped reports it to police and they’re attacked by a nasty lawyer before they even get home?” the alleged victim’s attorney, Karen Koehler, said on Tuesday. “Here is exhibit one for why people don’t report rapes against powerful people.”
Nelly, whose given name is Cornell Iral Haynes Jr., was arrested on investigation of second-degree rape at 4:37 a.m. Saturday, according to the Auburn Police Department.
The arrest followed a 911 call from a woman who claimed Nelly sexually assaulted her in his bedroom on a tour bus, according to the police news release.
Auburn police said the rapper and his entourage, after a performance at the White River Amphitheatre in Auburn, went to Aston Manor, a South Seattle nightclub.
It was there that he met the alleged victim and her friend and invited them into a VIP section, police said. The alleged victim was then invited to the rapper’s tour bus that was parked near Walmart at The Outlet Collection shopping mall in Auburn.
The woman says she was assaulted inside the bus, police said.
Auburn police Commander Mike Hirman would not comment Tuesday on the details of the alleged assault, but said police are taking their time to do a thorough investigation and are working to track down potential leads and witnesses.
He said the alleged victim was interviewed at length on Monday by both police and prosecutors.
“We are trying to get every possible lead followed so we have the clearest story possible and prosecutors can make an educated filing decision,” Hirman said.
Nelly, who was released on personal recognizance and has not been charged in connection with the alleged assault, took to Twitter to proclaim his innocence once he was out of jail.
“Let me say that I am beyond shocked that I have been targeted with this false allegation. I am completely innocent. I am confident that once the facts are looked at , it will be very clear that I am the victim of a false allegation,” he tweeted.
He also said that he would pursue every legal option to address the claim, thanked his fans and apologized to loved ones for the embarrassment caused by “putting myself in a situation where I could be victimized.”
His attorney, Scott Rosenblum, released a statement that said, “Our initial investigation clearly establishes this allegation is devoid of credibility and is motivated by greed and vindictiveness. I am confident, once this scurrilous accusation is thoroughly investigated, there will be no charges. Nelly is prepared to address and pursue all legal avenues to redress any damage caused by this clearly false allegation.”
Rosenblum is also quoted by TMZ as saying, “It does not surprise me that she wanted to have her story publicized. That is playbook 101 of a person with an agenda and clearly she has one. The agenda is money, fame and notoriety.”
On Monday night, Koehler fired back, issuing a statement that claimed both Nelly and his attorney were trying to illegally threaten and intimidate her into retracting her criminal complaint.
“When did this become right?” asked Koehler in a phone interview. “They are just beginning the investigation; the ink isn’t even dry on the police report and they are viciously attacking her.”
Nelly’s attorney could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983