Who is Michelle Caiola? Crystal McKinney’s lawyer says her client decided to "speak her truth" despite fear of retaliation from Diddy

Crystal McKinney
Crystal McKinney's lawyer Michelle Caiola, (Image via Michelle Caiola/LinkedIn)

Former model Crystal McKinney's attorney, Michelle Caiola, recently spoke against rapper Sean "Diddy" Combs. McKinney filed a lawsuit against him on May 21, 2024 at the Manhattan federal court for reportedly assaulting her.

For the unversed, Michelle Caiola works at a New York City law firm called Phillips & Associates, Attorneys at Law, LLP. According to AllHipHop, Michelle claimed that Combs drastically impacted McKinney's marriage along with her mental health.

Caiola added that upon seeing the other victims, including Cassie Ventura and Joi Dickerson-Neal, McKinney decided to come forward with her allegations against the 54-year-old rapper. She further explained:

"Plaintiff prayed to God before bringing this lawsuit, as she feared further violence and/or retaliation from Combs, but ultimately decided that she needed to speak her truth."

This happened amidst the ongoing controversy regarding the viral video featuring Diddy allegedly assaulting former girlfriend, Cassie Ventura.

Trigger warning: The article contains references to abuse. Readers' discretion is advised.


Exploring details about Michelle Caiola: Crystal McKinney's attorney in her lawsuit against Diddy

Michelle Caiola, Crystal's attorney, mainly works on cases involving harassment, discrimination, and abuse. Caiola first got her bachelor's degree in political science and women studies from Kent State University. She then went to University of Iowa State of Law to earn her JD degree. Michelle Caiola further studied in Washington University in St. Louis School of Law as well.

According to her LinkedIn profile, the attorney began her career by working as a senior trial attorney at the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Caiola spent a period of more than 11 years from 1997 till 2008.

In 2009, the attorney joined Legal Momentum as the Litigation Director. Legal Momentum is a non-profit organization which aims to fight for women rights through programming all over the country. In 2014, she joined Equal Rights Advocates, which is a civic organization based in San Francisco. Michelle Caiola worked there as the interim legal director till January 2015.

A month later, McKinney's attorney began working as the Managing Director at Disability Rights Advocates. This was followed by her current job at a New York City law firm called Phillips & Associates, Attorneys at Law, LLP. In September 2021, Michelle Caiola joined the company as a litigator. She then got promoted to the position of a partner in the firm in January 2023.

Her LinkedIn profile describes her as a "committed litigator." It further reads:

"Fierce and committed litigator seeking justice for those experiencing abuse, harassment, and discrimination. With demonstrated success in court and at the negotiation table, Michelle has secured multi-million-dollar settlements and significant injunctive relief."

The description continues:

"Michelle never hesitates to take on powerful entities or individuals in representing a diverse range of clients..."

On the othe hand, the official website of Phillips & Associates states:

"As a long-standing workplace advocate, Michelle has testified at government hearings and presented at employment discrimination conferences."

Michelle Caiola also a member of several professional associations, including National Employment Lawyers Association, Disability Rights Bar Association, and New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers.


Michelle Caiola states in the lawsuit that her client had a "moral obligation to speak up"

Attorney Michelle Caiola spoke about the lawsuit that Crystal McKinney filed against Diddy. It is related to the alleged 2003 assault of the former model at an Men’s Fashion Week event. As reported by AllHipHop, the attorney stated:

"McKinney is a woman of faith and when she saw news coverage of the lawsuits from Ms. Cassie Ventura, Ms. Dickerson-Neal, and others, she knew she had a moral obligation to speak up."

According to the lawsuit, McKinney accused the rapper of s*xually assaulting her in a bathroom. The former model claimed that when she woke up and came back to her senses, she found herself in a taxi and was completely disoriented.

McKinney also believed that it was Diddy who used his sources and influence to get her blacklisted from the industry and destroy her career. Apart from being allegedly s*xually assaulted, she also claimed in the lawsuit that she was drugged.


McKinney came forward with her accusations just a few days after the video of Diddy and Casie Ventura went viral. This new case is now added to a series of lawsuits against Sean Combs.The last one, originally filed by Ventura last year, is now settled.

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Edited by DEEPALI
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