CHICAGO (CN) – The Seventh Circuit on Thursday evening upheld a $7.1 million judgment against rap artist The Game for sexually battering a contestant on his VH1 dating show, slamming his “deeply reprehensible” conduct.
The Game, whose real name is Jayceon Terrell Taylor, was the star of the VH1 television series “She’s Got Game,” a reality show created to help the platinum selling artist land a new girlfriend.
In the 10-episode show, 10 of Taylor’s friends are asked to pick a woman they believe will be his perfect match. The women went on tour with Taylor, and each episode ends with a woman going home.
Priscilla Rainey was a contestant on the TV series when Taylor took her on an “after-hours date” to Adrianna’s Sportsbar in Markham, Ill., which she was misled to believe was part of the show, according to her 2015 lawsuit.
At the bar, he was “out of control, highly intoxicated on alcohol and drugs (which was typical), and sexually assaulted plaintiff on several occasions that night. This included him forcefully reaching his hand inside her dress to rub her bare vagina and buttocks,” her complaint states. (Parentheses in original.)
He also allegedly “juggled” her breasts while other patrons looked on.
Rainey was sent home in episode six of the show after she confronted Taylor about the assault and he told her to keep quiet: “What you can do is be a woman and shut up, like you can shut up right now.” When she did not shut up, and described the assault in graphic details in front of the film crew, Taylor told her, “Get off this bus before you get your ass strangled.”
After Rainey sued Taylor for $10 million in August 2015 for sexual battery, Taylor repeatedly attacked her on social media, claiming that she only sued because she was eliminated from the show. He called her a “thirsty Gatorade mascot of a transvestite,” and accused her of having “a history of a lot of other ‘Tranny Panty’ activity,’” among other more vulgar insults.
After a four-day trial, which Taylor tried to delay last minute on claims of a severe tooth infection, a jury ruled for Rainey in 2016 and ordered Taylor to pay $7.1 million.
Taylor appealed the judge’s refusal to continue the trial, and the damages award, but the Seventh Circuit was not moved.
Taylor’s “Snapchat posts gave the judge good reason to doubt that Taylor’s dental issue was a true emergency,” U.S. Circuit Judge Diane Sykes said in a 19-page opinion late Thursday. “The screenshots showed Taylor smoking something under pink neon lights in the middle of the night just a few hours after he called a dental emergency hotline and a few hours before he was due in court in Chicago.”
The Chicago-based appeals court also upheld the trial judge’s decision to admit the video of the confrontation between Rainey and Taylor, captured by the VH1 crew.
“The video had obvious probative value on the key question before the jury: whether to credit Rainey’s testimony that Taylor sexually assaulted her. Taylor’s reaction when she confronted him is telling,” Sykes, a George W. Bush appointee, wrote. “When she finally spilled the details of the assault, there is no denial; instead, Taylor erupted in a torrent of profanities, ordered her off the bus, and threatened to ‘strangle’ and ‘choke’ her. This conduct reflects consciousness of guilt.”
The Seventh Circuit found the $1.13 million compensatory damages award “fair and reasonable” given the severe emotional distress Rainey suffered, and upheld the $6 million punitive damages award given Taylor’s “deeply reprehensible” behavior.
“That Taylor’s cruelty continued after the assault compounded Rainey’s pain and humiliation,” Sykes said, citing his vicious Instagram insults referring to Rainey as a “transvestite.”
“On these facts it’s abundantly clear that Taylor’s conduct warranted further sanction,” the court concluded.
Chief U.S. Circuit Judge Diane Wood, a Bill Clinton appointee, and U.S. Circuit Judge Joel Flaum, appointed by Ronald Reagan, joined the opinion.