It’s no secret that pioneering hip-hop journalist Denise “Dee” Barnes was viciously beaten by Dr. Dre in 1991, but there are still details of the harrowing incident that remain a mystery. Barnes, who received an outpouring of support since revealing that she’s homeless, appeared on The Wendy Williams Show Wednesday (April 18) to discuss her living predicament and the night that she was assaulted by Dre, but when asked if the music mogul sexually assaulted her, Barnes went silent.
As Barnes recalled during the interview, Dre attacked her at a Def Jam party in Los Angeles in retaliation for her interview with Ice Cube after he split with N.W.A. According to Barnes, she was standing near a stairway talking to someone when Dre grabbed her by the hair and rammed her head into a brick wall. “Dre approached me out of nowhere [and] grabs me by my hair. He picked me up, lifted me up off the ground [by my hair and] slammed me up against a brick wall several times.
“I didn’t see but he had a bodyguard with him and he kept the crowd from helping [me] by threatening the crowd with a gun,” continued the former Pump It Up host. “The person that was talking to me was the only person who tried to intervene, he got pistol whipped [and ] lost two teeth.”
Barnes remembers being disoriented as she lay on the ground, unable to walk down the stairs. “I grab the rail, I pull myself back up and run into the women’s restroom. He follows me into the women’s restroom,” she said before taking a pause. “He continued to assault me in the women’s restroom.”
“Were you sexually assaulted?” Williams prodded.
“I’m not comfortable talking about everything right now,” Barnes replied.
“Your silence is speaking volumes,” added Williams.
In a 1991 interview with Rolling Stone, Dre brushed off the incident casually stating that he threw Barnes “through a door.” The assault came back to light in 2015 after it was noticeably absent from Straight Outta Compton, along with Dre’s abuse of his ex-girlfriend, Michel’le with whom he has a child. Dre later released a public apology, although he didn’t mention Barnes or Michel’le directly. “I apologize to the women I’ve hurt. I deeply regret what I did and know that it has forever impacted all of our lives,” he said in a statement. He also addressed the beating in HBO’s The Defiant Ones series in 2017. “I was out of my f**king mind at the time. I f**ked up. I paid for it. I’m sorry for it. And I apologized for it. I have this dark cloud that follows me, and it’s going to be attached to me forever. It’s a major blemish on who I am as a man, and every time it comes up, it just makes me feel f**ked up.”
Dre, whose birth name is Andre Young, pleaded no contest to assaulting Barnes. He was sentenced to probation and community service and went to become a multi-millionaire entrepreneur, Grammy-winning solo artist, and sought after producer. Meanwhile, Barnes was blacklisted from the music industry after she was attacked.
During a much happier moment in her Wendy Williams Show interview, Williams presented Barnes with a $15,000 check to help her get back on her feet and offered her a book deal.
Watch the full interview below.