The Sexual Assault Allegation That Led Russell Simmons to Step Down From His Companies
Russell Simmons had been accused by two women of sexual misconduct earlier this month, but it was Jenny Lumet’s Hollywood Reporter editorial that forced the storied music producer out of his companies—which include record label Def Jam Records and clothing companies Phat Farm and Tantris.
Lumet, a screenwriter whose credits include Rachel Getting Married and The Mummy, details a harrowing experience in which Simmons drove her to his apartment and forced himself on her. She writes in THR:
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. 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.
In a statement to the publication, Simmons denied the allegation that the incident was non-consensual. He wrote:
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.
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In the same statement, the producer said he would be “stepping down from the businesses that I founded” and that the companies would now be “run by a new and diverse generation of extraordinary executives who are moving the culture and consciousness forward.”
Simmons himself says he “will commit to continuing my personal growth, spiritual learning and above all to listening.”
Earlier this month, Keri Claussen Khalighi and Tanya Reid accused Simmons of pressuring them to perform non-consensual sexual acts in incidents that involved director Brett Ratner. Both Simmons and Ratner have denied the allegations.