Russell Simmons Steps Down From His Companies in Light of New Sexual Assault Allegations
Just a bit over a week after former model Keri Khalighi accused music mogul and philanthropist Russell Simmons of sexual assault, an award-winning screenwriter by the name of Jenny Lumet—she's worked on Rachel Getting Married and The Mummy—has come forth to do the same. As a result, Simmons, who denied Khalighi's allegations last week, has stepped down from positions at his own companies.
Lumet's accusation came in the form of a harrowing guest column for The Hollywood Reporter. In it, she recalls her first encounters with Simmons in the late 1980s, before telling the story of the day he allegedly assaulted her.
Although they had been friendly and Simmons had made playful advances toward her in the past, Lumet says she never gave any indication she was interested in a romantic relationship with the Def Jam co-founder. So she was shocked when Simmons, after offering to give her a ride home from Indochine, a New York City restaurant she frequented, directed the car's driver to ignore her requests to be dropped off at her home.
"I got into the car with you," Lumet recalled. "The driver began to drive. I assumed you knew where I lived, because you had sent me 250 balloons, but I gave the driver my address on 19th Street and 2nd Avenue." You said to the driver: 'No.' I didn’t understand, so I said: 'Russell?' I said, again, to the driver: '19th Street.' Again you said to the driver: 'No. 'Then, the car doors locked. It was loud. The noise made me jump."
From there, Lumet described the dread she experienced in the minutes leading up to being dropped off at Simmons' apartment. Once in the apartment, Lumet explains the moment Simmons allegedly forced himself upon her in an elevator after she told him, "Wait." He didn't respond to her apparent call to stop his advances, and eventually, she went into the apartment with Simmons, where she felt she was required to perform sexual acts to ensure her safety.
One of the companies Simmons vaguely refers to likely includes Rush Communications. Simmons responded to Lumet's allegations in a statement. You can read it in its entirety below:
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.
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