Russell Simmons Steps Down From His Companies Amid More Sexual Misconduct Allegations

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One of Hip-Hop’s original moguls is stepping down. Moments ago reports confirmed that Russell Simmons is disassociating himself from his companies. The move comes after two accusations of rape. The first published earlier this month in The Los Angeles Times. Model Keri Claussen Khalighi alleges that Simmons had sex without consent in 1991. Khalighi, who was 17 years old at the time, says that would-be Hollywood film director Brett Ratner was also present to part of the acts which transpired during a weekend in New York City at Simmons’ residence.

Another woman, Jenny Lumet, has now accused Simmons of raping her in 1991 as well. The screenwriter and daughter of Oscar-winning filmmaker Sydney Lumet wrote about the incident in a column for The Hollywood Reporter. Claiming Simmons pursued her for years, including delivered gifts and grand gestures, Lumet reflects, “There is so much guilt, and so much shame. There is an excruciating internal reckoning. As a woman of color, I cannot express how wrenching it is to write this about a successful man of color. Again, shame about who I was years ago, choices made years ago. In this very moment, I feel a pang to protect your daughters. I don’t think you are inclined to protect mine,” Jenny Lumet wrote in the THR piece published this morning. Lumet says she has encountered Simmons multiple times since 1991, and the two have never spoken about the encounter. “When it was over, I got my clothes and quickly went down in the elevator by myself. You didn’t try to stop me. I went home in a taxi. I was grateful to be secure in my home. I never told anyone this story until October 27th of this year (after the Harvey Weinstein story was in the news, but weeks before the first public claims were made against you), when I told a girlfriend from childhood.”

In response, Simmons issued this statement, as published by The Hollywood Reporter:

“I have been informed with great anguish of Jenny Lumet’s recollection about our night together in 1991. 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.

This is a time of great transition. The voices of the voiceless, those who have been hurt or shamed, deserve and need to be heard. As the corridors of power inevitably make way for a new generation, I don’t want to be a distraction so I am removing myself from the businesses that I founded. The companies will now be run by a new and diverse generation of extraordinary executives who are moving the culture and consciousness forward. I will convert the studio for yogic science into a not-for-profit center of learning and healing. As for me, I will step aside and commit myself to continuing my personal growth, spiritual learning and above all to listening.”

Russell Simmons’ music career dates back to the early 1980s when the Queens, New York native began promoting parties and managing early Rap acts like Kurtis Blow. In recent years, Russell Simmons had launched web and video platforms including All Def Digital and Global Grind. In 2017, he has been celebrating the 25th anniversary of Def Comedy Jam thanks, in part, to a relaunch with HBO (known as All Def Comedy).

Previously, Simmons co-founded Def Jam Records, R.A.L. (Rush Associated Labels), and RushTown Management. Russell produced films including Krush Groove and The Nutty Professor. He also founded fashion line Phat Farm in the 1990s as well. The best-selling author has been instrumental in the careers of Run-D.M.C., LL Cool J, Slick Rick, Redman, and Eric B. & Rakim, among many others.