Hip hop mogul Russell Simmons is stepping down from his companies amid fresh allegations of sexual misconduct.
Former model Keri Claussen Khalighi recently accused the Def Jam Recordings co-founder of sexual assault, telling the Los Angeles Times she was 17 when she became a victim of a weekend of abuse in 1991, when Simmons allegedly forced her to have sex with him at his New York City apartment.
Russell subsequently insisted the sexual contact that took place between himself and Khalighi was consensual, but he is now facing accusations of sexual assault from screenwriter Jenny Lumet, who has been close to Simmons for several years. She alleges he assaulted her at his apartment in New York in 1991 after he offered to have his driver take her home.
“There was penetration,” she writes in an essay for The Hollywood Reporter. “At one point you were only semi-erect and appeared frustrated. Angry? I remember being afraid that you would deem that my fault and become violent. I did not know if you were angry, but I was afraid that you were.
“I desperately wanted to keep the situation from escalating. I wanted you to feel that I was not going to be difficult. I wanted to stay as contained as I could…”
“When it was over, I got my clothes and quickly went down in the elevator by myself,” she continues. “You didn’t try to stop me. I went home in a taxi. I was grateful to be secure in my home…”
Lumet kept quiet about the alleged incident until last month (Oct17) and saw Simmons several times after, but did not confront him about it.
Simmons has now responded to Lumet’s article and insists his recollection of the evening is different, but that he is taking time away from his businesses to focus on himself.
“I have been informed with great anguish of Jenny Lumet’s recollection about our night together in 1991,” a statement from Simmons reads. “I know Jenny and her family and have seen her several times over the years since the evening she described. While her memory of that evening is very different from mine, it is now clear to me that her feelings of fear and intimidation are real.
“While I have never been violent, I have been thoughtless and insensitive in some of my relationships over many decades and I sincerely apologize…”
“I don’t want to be a distraction so I am removing myself from the businesses that I founded…,” he continues. “As for me, I will step aside and commit myself to continuing my personal growth, spiritual learning and above all to listening.”