Russell Simmons Steps Down from Companies Following Sexual Assault Accusations

Entrepreneur, music mogul and founder of Def Jam Recordings, Russell Simmons has stepped down from his numerous businesses after a new accusation of harassment and sexual assault against him.

On Thursday (November 30), famed screenwriter Jenny Lumet published an extensive column for The Hollywood Reporter, where she detailed an interaction where Simmons allegedly sexually assaulted her in 1991. In the column, Lumet said the incident happened when she was 24 after she was trapped in Simmons car and taken to him New York City apartment.

“I got into the car with you. 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.” she wrote. “Then the car doors locked. It was loud. The noise made me jump… I couldn’t open the doors. I couldn’t open the windows. The car was moving. The driver did not stop. He did not take me to 19th Street. He took me to your apartment.”

Not long after Lumet’s column was published, Simmons released a statement and apologized for his behavior. “I have been informed with great anguish of Jenny Lumet’s recollection about our night together in 1991,” the Rush Communications CEO said. “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 statement continued: “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.”

According to CNN, the Los Angeles Times published a report earlier this month that detailed sexual misconduct made against Simmons and director Brett Ratner. In the story, fashion model Keri Claussen Khalighi said the men took her out to dinner which was followed by a trip to Simmons apartment. According to Khalighi, the two invited her over to see a music video that was in the early stages of production– however the model noticed Simmons aggressive sexual behavior and allegedly forced her to undress. While detailing the alleged encounter, Khalighi said both Ratner and Simmons were “in it together.” Following the story’s publishing, the two denied the allegations – Simmons added that, “abusing women in any way share or form violated the very core of my being.”

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