Russell Simmons Steps Down From Companies Following Sexual Assault Allegations
In the wake of sexual harassment and assault allegations, Russell Simmons has resigned from the companies that he founded. The storied record executive, philanthropist, and entrepreneur made the announcement following screenwriter Jenny Lumet’s guest column in The Hollywood Reporter, “Russell Simmons Sexually Violated Me.”
“I have been informed with great anguish of Jenny Lumet’s recollection about our night together in 1991,” he wrote. “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 and humbly apologize.”
Simmons, 60, went on to describe this as “a time of great transition,” saying that “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,” he wrote. “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.”
In her guest column, Lumet wrote: “It was dark, but not pitch dark. You closed the door. At that point, I simply did what I was told. There was penetration. 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,” she added. “I wanted you to feel that I was not going to be difficult. I wanted to stay as contained as I could. You told me to turn over on my stomach. You said something about a part of my body. You did not ejaculate inside me. 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.”
On Nov. 19, Simmons was accused of sexual misconduct by model Keri Claussen Khalighi, who said that the producer coerced her to perform oral sex and penetrated her without consent when she was 17.
The Def Jam founder responded to the allegations after the report was published. “Everything that occurred between Keri and me occurred with her full consent and participation,” he said. “Abusing women in any way shape or form violates the very core of my being.”