Prominent music and TV producer Russell Simmons, who co-founded Def Jam Recordings, has been accused of sexually assaulting the daughter of filmmaker Sidney Lumet. In a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter, screenwriter Jenny Lumet accused Simmons of forcing her to have sex with him in 1991.
Simmons announced he was stepping down from his companies just hours after the allegation came to light.
“I have been informed with great anguish of Jenny Lumet’s recollection about our night together in 1991,” Simmons said in a statement. “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 was married to model Kimora Lee for nearly a decade. They have two children together, who are also following in their mother’s footsteps in the fashion industry. Lee took over the apparel brand Baby Phat after Simmons, and served as the CEO/creative director of the company through 2010. She gained attention in the fashion world when she was a teenager and has been involved in fashion design since.
Here’s what you need to know about Lee and Simmons:
1. Lee & Simmons Met When she was 17-years old
Lee met Simmons in November 1992 during fashion week in New York. She was only 17-years old at the time and Simmons was 35. The two started seeing each other romantically, and ended up getting married on December 20, 1998 in a ceremony on St. Barts, a Caribbean island. The officiant at their wedding was Simmons’ brother, Joey “Reverend Run” Simmons, who was in Run-DMC with him.
2. Lee & Simmons Have 2 Children Together
Lee gave birth to two children while the couple were married. The first was Ming Lee Simmons, who was born January 21, 2000, and the second was Aoki Lee Simmons, born August 16, 2002.
In a profile by W Magazine, Ming, now 17, said she grew up idolizing her mother and was thrust into the fashion industry.
“I grew up on the runway, walking with my mom and sister at the end of every Baby Phat show during fashion week in New York,” she said in the profile. “I’ve been in ads with my mom and sister since I was 2 years old. I’m only now realizing how uncommon that is and I’m deeply appreciative of those experiences.”
Kimora also commented on her daughter’s fashion career, saying she’s heavily involved with her.
“We go to castings together, which I think is okay, but it’s got to be weird if your mom is me. Maybe it helps, maybe it hurts, we don’t know,” she said to the magazine.
Aoki is now 15 and “tends to keep a lower profile” than Ming, Teen Vogue reported in an article.
3. Simmons & Lee Got Divorced in 2009 & She Remarried
Lee and Simmons separated in March 2006, and she filed for divorce in 2008. Their divorce was finalized in January 2009.
USA Today reported that the couple agreed that Simmons would pay $40,000 per month in child support until each daughter reaches 19-and-a-half years old. Lee got full custody of their children, and they cited “irreconcilable differences” in their court filings. Simmons was granted visitation rights where it was required that he be “accompanied at all times by the children’s nanny and security personnel.”
Lee started dating actor Dijmon Honsou while she was separated from Simmons, and they got married — not legally in the U.S. — during the summer of 2008. They had a son together, named Kenzo Lee Hounsou, in 2009. Their relationship lasted only a few years, though, as they announced their separation in 2012.
In February 2014, Lee revealed that she’s married to Tim Leissner, who worked for some time as a banker for Goldman Sachs. She gave birth to a boy, Wolfe Lee Leissner, in April 2015, and Simmons is his godfather.
Even though they’re divorced, Simmons said that he and Lee have remained good friends.
Family. I'm excited to receive my family tomorrow. As a single man with kids who are away at boarding school it gets kind of lonely. This morning's meditation made me reflect on just how lucky I am. I feel incredibly close to my best friend Kimora Leissner and her amazing spouse and now my business partner, Tim Leissner. I also feel very close to the father of one of the kids I love the most in the world (Kenzo Lee)Djimon Hounsou. When Tim asked me to be the Godfather to his and Kimora's beautiful baby boy, WOLF, I was overwhelmed. Anyhow with my 2 biological kids being so sweet, compassionate and excelling in one of the best boarding schools in the world (receiving straight A's). I feel so grateful I can't really express the feelings in words. While I realize that life is short and ever changing (you never know what's around the bend) for now I must say this morning meditation produced tears of joy. Thank you KIMORA LEE FOR BEING A STRONG, STRONG EXAMPLE OF EXCELLENCE. You are the best mother on the planet. "YOU PUT THIS THING TOGETHER".
“I feel incredibly close to my best friend Kimora and her amazing spouse and now my business partner, Tim Leissner,” Simmons posted to Instagram in 2015.
4. She Was Arrested After Leading Police on a Chase in New Jersey
In July 2004, Lee was arrested in New Jersey after leading police officers on a two-mile chase. She was charged with possession of marijuana, reckless driving, eluding police and driving with a broken tail light. In August 2005, PEOPLE Magazine reported that she reached a plea-deal and was placed on six months probation. If she pleaded guilty to the charges, prosecutors agreed to let her into a pretrial intervention program for nonviolent first offenders. Once she completed the course, all charges were set to be dropped.
“This is certainly an aberration, a one-time mistake of judgment,” Assistant Prosecutor Wayne Mello said to the Associated Press. “It’s precisely the circumstance that pretrial intervention was created for.”
5. She Had Her Own Reality TV Shows Documenting Her Lifestyle
Lee has appeared in numerous films and TV shows throughout her career. In 1993, she appeared as a model in the movie For Love or Money and then was on the TV series One World Music Beat. She was also in the 2002 movie Brown Sugar. She’s appeared in several other works over the years, but is arguably best known for being the producer on her own TV shows, Kimora: Life in the Fab Lane and Kimora: House of Fab.
The reality TV shows offered a glimpse into her life and her company’s team of publicists, managers, stylists and designers.