Russell Simmons Steps Down After Second 1991 Accusation

Jenny Lumet details alleged sexual assault in a Hollywood Reporter column
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 30, 2017 12:19 PM CST
Russell Simmons Steps Down After Second 1991 Accusation
In this July 18, 2015 file photo, Russell Simmons speaks appears at the RUSH Philanthropic Arts Foundation's Art for Life Benefit. Simmons released a statement Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017, after screenwriter Jenny Lumet made an allegation of sexual misconduct in a guest essay in The Hollywood Reporter.   (Photo by Scott Roth/Invision/AP, File)

Jenny Lumet's Thursday guest column for the Hollywood Reporter starts with a timeline—one that ends with Def Jam Recordings' Russell Simmons stepping down from his companies. Simmons was on Nov. 19 accused of committing sexual assault in 1991 by model Keri Claussen Khalighi; he denied it days later in a piece published by the Hollywood Reporter, and Lumet says it prompted her to share her own accusation. In a detailed piece, Lumet, the screenwriter behind Rachel Getting Married and The Mummy (and granddaughter of Lena Horne), writes that after knowing Simmons socially for years, she accepted his offer of a ride home in 1991. But she says that after giving his driver her address, Simmons twice said "no," took her to his apartment, and raped her.

She writes, "As a woman of color, I cannot express how wrenching it is to write this about a successful man of color. ... In this very moment, I feel a pang to protect your daughters. I don't think you are inclined to protect mine." In response, Simmons released a statement noting his "great anguish" upon reading "Lumet's recollection about our night together. ... 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." Expressing a desire to not "be a distraction," he has announced he is stepping down from his businesses and "commit[ing] myself to continuing my personal growth, spiritual learning, and above all to listening."

(More Russell Simmons stories.)

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