The legal troubles resulting from a decades-old sexual assault conviction against Kenneth Petty, childhood friend turned husband of Nicki Minaj, continue to mount. After a March arrest, on Friday, Petty pleaded guilty to knowingly failing to register as a sex offender when the couple took up residence in Los Angeles in July 2019 prior to marrying in October of that year. Under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), failure to register is a federal crime.
Petty’s record dates back to 1995, when he was convicted of attempted first-degree rape in connection with a 1994 assault, during which he also used a sharp instrument; he was subsequently sentenced to 18 to 54 months in New York state prison (h/t USA Today). Both he and the victim were reportedly 16 at the time, though in a December 2018 defense of her then-boyfriend, Minaj tweeted: “He was 15, she was 16... in a relationship. But go awf Internet. y’all can’t run my life. Y’all can’t even run y’all own life. Thank you boo.”
It seems Minaj and Petty’s lives are spiraling out of control, as of late. As a registered Level 2 sex offender on New York State’s Sex Offender Registry, Petty is considered to pose “a medium risk of committing another offense” (h/t USA Today) and was obligated to register in California. However, as previously reported by The Root, not only did he not do so, but he and Minaj allegedly attempted to bribe his accuser, identified as Jennifer Hough, into recanting her testimony, according to a lawsuit filed in August which “alleges that the couple attempted to convince the woman who accused Petty of sexual assault in the 1990s to recant her account by harassing and intimidating her.”
“The lawsuit says that an intermediary offered Ms. Hough $20,000 in exchange for signing a prepared statement recanting the accusation,” the New York Times reported. “At one point last year, the lawsuit says, Ms. Minaj called Ms. Hough, saying that she had heard Ms. Hough was willing to ‘help out’; days later, it says, Ms. Hough and her family members received an ‘onslaught of harassing calls and unsolicited visits’ from people she believed to be associated with the couple.”
Not only is Hough seeking unspecified damages for “intentional infliction of emotional distress” by the couple, she also doubled down on her initial accusations, “accusing Petty of sexual assault and battery related to the case from the mid-90s,” as we reported at the time.
While Petty was released in January 1999 after serving nearly four years and pleading down to attempted rape, he returned to prison in 2006 following a first-degree manslaughter conviction, serving approximately seven more years before being released on parole in May 2013. However, the 43-year-old’s newest legal troubles may send him back to prison; as reported by Newsweek, he “now faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a lifetime of supervised release...minimum sentencing would be five years of supervised release and a $100 court assessment fee.”
As for Minaj, while she wasn’t officially slated to appear at the 2021 MTV VMAs this Sunday, she gave some indication that she may have planned to make a surprise onstage appearance as a fan asked if she’d performing via Twitter.
“I just pulled out,” she responded. “I’ll explain why another day. But I love those guys at MTV...Next year we there baby.”
Petty’s sentencing is scheduled for January 24, 2022.