Someone else’s sex tape is proving to be costly for 50 Cent: A jury ordered the rapper-actor Friday to pay $5 million to a woman who said he acquired a video she made with her boyfriend, added himself as a crude commentator and posted it online without her permission.
And the Manhattan jurors are set to continue deliberating next week on possible further, punitive damages in Lastonia Leviston’s invasion-of-privacy lawsuit against the multiplatinum-selling “Get Rich or Die Tryin'” artist.
Attorney William A. Brewer III says 50 Cent and his legal team are “disappointed in the verdict but very appreciative of the service of the jury and the court.” Leviston’s lawyer, Philip Freidin, declined to comment on the award, first reported by the Daily News of New York.
The lawsuit stems from a 13-minute video that appeared online in 2009 featuring a wig-wearing 50 Cent as a narrator dubbed Pimpin’ Curly. The character made explicit remarks about Leviston and taunted rap rival Rick Ross, who wasn’t in the video but has a daughter with Leviston. At the time the video surfaced, Ross and 50 Cent were trading barbs via video, lyrics and interviews.
50 Cent got the 2008 tape from the man in it, Leviston’s boyfriend at the time. The rapper and his lawyers said that 50 Cent didn’t actually post the video but that Leviston’s then-boyfriend said she wouldn’t mind if he did, and he thought that would suffice.
The Pimpin’ Curly character was just “joking” by referring to Leviston as a “porn star,” 50 Cent said during sworn pre-trial questioning that was played for the jury, according to news reports. He didn’t testify at the trial.
But Leviston, of Pembroke Pines, Florida, said she was horrified and humiliated when the video appeared online.
“This was something done to me. I didn’t have a choice. I would never, ever do this to myself,” she testified, according to news reports.
Born Curtis Jackson, 50 Cent burst to the fore of gangsta rap with 2003’s “Get Rich or Die Tryin,'” its lead single, “In Da Club,” and a tough life story that included being shot nine times.
Now 40, he’s also a businessman — his interests have ranged from mining to water drinks — and an actor whose credits include the Starz network action series “Power” and the upcoming boxing movie “Southpaw.”