Thirteen women have now accused Russell Simmons of sexual misconduct, including six women alleging they were raped by him.
Simmons, a rap mogul and entrepreneur who founded the iconic Def Jam Recordings label, has denied the accusations, but did apologize for “instances of thoughtlessness in my consensual relations.” The 60-year-old Queens native has also stepped down from all of his companies as a result of the accusations, which have been made over the course of about a month.
On December 14, the Los Angeles Times reported that the NYPD is investigating the rape accusations against Simmons.
“We were made aware of the alleged crime through the media, and we anticipate there will be more who come forward,” a NYPD source told the newspaper. “We’re in the process of setting up interviews and if any victims want to come forward, they should contact us.”
Simmons’ attorney, Brad Rose, told the LA Times, his client “fully supports and will cooperate with the police inquiry and is confident of a swift resolution.”
You can read Simmons’ full statement about the accusations below:
I vehemently deny all these allegations. These horrific accusations have shocked me to my core and all of my relations have been consensual.
I am blessed to have shared extraordinary relationships, whether through work or love, with many great women; and I have enormous respect for the women’s movement worldwide and their struggle for respect, dignity, equality and power. I am devastated by any reason I may have given to anyone to say or think of me in the ways that are currently being described. In recent weeks, some former business, creative and romantic partners have aired grievances as claims I categorically reject. In some of these instances, financial motives and direct contradictory witness testimony has been supplied to the media, which has been completely left out of stories. In the last few days, one woman attempted to extort me for $500,000 only to recant her ridiculous claim. The current allegations sent to me by The New York Times range from the patently untrue to the frivolous and hurtful. The presumption of innocent until proven guilty must not be replaced by “Guilty by Accusation.”
I have already apologized for the instances of thoughtlessness in my consensual relations. I have separated myself from my businesses and charities in order to not become a distraction. I have re-dedicated myself to spiritual learning, healing and working on behalf of the communities to which I have devoted my life. I have accepted that I can and should get dirt on my sleeves if it means witnessing the birth of a new consciousness about women. What I will not accept is responsibility for what I have not done. I have conducted my life with a message of peace and love. Although I have been candid about how I have lived in books and interviews detailing my flaws, I will relentlessly fight against any untruthful character assassination that paints me as a man of violence.
Simmons has also taken to social media in an effort to respond to the accusations, launching a #NotMe campaign.
“Today, I begin to properly defend myself. I will prove without any doubt that I am innocent of all rape charges. Today, I will focus on “The Original Sin” (Keri Claussen), the claim that created this insane pile on of my #MeToo,” he wrote on Instagram on December 14. “Stay tuned! We’ll share information today… And tomorrow the case of Jenny Lumet. My intention is not to diminish the #MeToo movement in anyway, but instead hold my accusers accountable. #NotMe Again, this is not a movement against or even in conjunction with #Metoo. It’s just a statement about my innocence.”
Here are the 13 women who have accused Russell Simmons of sexual misconduct:
1. Keri Claussen Khalighi
Keri Claussen Khalighi was the first woman to come forward with an accusation against Russell Simmons. In a November 19 article, she told the Los Angeles Times that she was sexually assaulted by Simmons in 1991 when she was a 17-year-old model who had recently left Nebraska.
She said she met Simmons and Brett Ratner, then a music video producer, at a casting call, and went to dinner with them. Khalighi told the newspaper that they then went to Simmons apartment so they could show her a music video they were working on. Khalighi said Simmons began making aggressive sexual advances and taking off her clothes. Khalighi said she was coerced into oral sex and was then raped by Simmons while she was taking a shower.
“Everything that occurred between Keri and me occurred with her full consent and participation,” Simmons told the Times.
Khalighi told Megyn Kelly that Simmons privately apologized to her.
“Russell and I have actually had a face-to-face confrontation around this,” Khalighi told Kelly on November 22. “We’ve had phone conversations where we’ve had a conversation about what happened where there was no dispute of what we were talking about. We were both talking about what happened on that night and he actually apologized. Part of what’s so confusing and re-traumatizing is what he’s speaking about privately with me is completely different than what’s come out publicly. And that’s the piece that’s been really, really, really upsetting, disappointing and quite honestly, just repugnant with the hypocrisy and the lies and the denial.”
Simmons denies that he apologized to her. On December 14, TMZ reported that Simmons took a polygraph test about the Khalighi accusation. His attorney says the results show that Simmons did not sexually assault her. Simmons invited Khalighi and his other accusers to take a polygraph, and said he plans to take more tests in an attempt to prove his innocence in the other allegations.
2. Jenny Lumet
Screenwriter Jenny Lumet came forward in a guest column in The Hollywood Reporter on November 29, writing that Simmons sexually violated her. Lumet, the daughter of filmmaker Sidney Lumet, wrote that she first met Simmons in 1987 and he pursued her over the years.
She said that in 1991, when she was 24, Simmons offered to give her a ride home. Lumet wrote that she tried to give her address to Simmons’ driver, but he instead took her to Simmons’ apartment. She said the car doors were locked and she couldn’t get out. Lumet said she told Simmons “no” twice.
“I felt dread and disorientation. I wanted to go home. I said I wanted to go home. I didn’t recognize the man next to me,” she wrote. “I didn’t know if the situation would turn violent. I remember thinking that I must be crazy; I remember hoping that the Russell I knew would return any moment.”
She wrote that she was raped when they got into his apartment:
You moved me into a bedroom. I said ‘Wait.’ You said nothing.
I made the trade in my mind. I thought ‘just keep him calm and you’ll get home.’ Maybe another person would have thought differently, or not made the trade.
It was dark, but not pitch dark. You closed the door.
At that point, I simply did what I was told.
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.
Lumet wrote, “There is so much guilt, and so much shame. There is an excruciating internal reckoning. As a woman of color, I cannot express how wrenching it is to write this about a successful man of color. Again, shame about who I was years ago, choices made years ago. In this very moment, I feel a pang to protect your daughters. I don’t think you are inclined to protect mine.”
Simmons said in response to her column, “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.”
3. Drew Dixon
Drew Dixon said she was raped by Simmons in 1995 when she was working as an executive at Def Jam, according to the New York Times. Dixon, then 24, told the newspaper she was sexually harassed and then sexually assaulted by Simmons.
Dixon told the Times he would talk graphically about how she aroused him during work phone calls, asked her to sit on his lap at a staff meeting and regularly exposed his erect penis to her. She said he then raped her in his New York apartment, leading to her quitting Def Jam.
“I was broken,” she told the newspaper.
Dixon said she had gone to Simmons’ apartment and rejected his sexual advances several times. “I remember realizing I was cornered,” she told the newspaper.
“The last thing I remember was him pinning me down to kiss me on the bed,” she said. She then remembers being naked with Simmons in his hot tub. She told the Times she wasn’t drinking and doesn’t think she was drugged, but believes she disassociated herself from the experience.
Simmons denied the accusation and told the Times he never had sex with Dixon.
Dixon later sued Simmons for sexual harassment and they settled in 1997, according to the Times. She said she accepted about $30,000.
“I was like, ‘I do not want to be famous for being sexually harassed by Russell Simmons,'” she told the Times. “I want to make records and be famous for that.”
Dixon said she Simmons later apologized to her at an industry event years later.
“He said, ‘I have daughters and I do yoga now, Drew, and I know what I did was wrong, and I’m sorry,'” she told the Times.
4. Tina Baker
Tina Baker, a singer, told the New York Times she was raped by Simmons in the early 1990s when he was her manager.
Baker told the newspaper she was raped in either 1990 or 1991 at Simmons’ New York City apartment. She said she went there for a work meeting and it “all got really ugly, pretty fast.” She said Simmons started pouring drinks and tried to kiss her. She said she remembered “him on top of me, pushing me down and him saying, ‘Don’t fight me.’ I did nothing, I shut my eyes and waited for it to end.”
According to Baker, she was still in a business relationship with Simmons after the sexual assault and had to go back to his apartment again. She said that during that second visit to the apartment, Simmons pulled out his erect penis and she fled.
“I didn’t sing for almost a year,” Baker told the Times. “I went into oblivion.”
Simmons denied the accusations.
5. Toni Sallie
Toni Sallie told the New York Times she was raped by Simmons in 1988. Sallie, a radio reporter, said she had first met him on an assignment and they went on a few dates before realizing it wasn’t working out.
Sallie told the Times that the sexual assault occurred when Simmons invited her to a party at his apartment. When she showed up at the apartment, he was the only one there.
“He pushed me on the bed and jumped on top of me, and physically attacked me,” she told the newspaper. “We were fighting. I said no.”
Sallie, who said she told two friends and a colleague about the rape after it happened, ran into Simmons in South Florida a year later at a music conference. She said she resisted his attempt to take her to a dark beach and then he chased her into a bathroom and grabbed her hair. Sallie said she was able to escape to her room.
Sallie said she didn’t know what would happen if she reported the assault.
“If I went to the police, I didn’t know how that would turn out,” she told the Times. “You have to understand, I was very much in a man’s game. Black women were just starting to break into the field.”
Sallie told the Times that to this day, “I don’t feel comfortable in a room full of men. I felt alone for 29 years, like nobody would listen to me.”
6. Sherri Hines
Sherri Hines, a singer who went by the name Sheri Sher in the all-female hip-hop group Mercedes Ladies, told the Los Angeles Times that she was raped by Simmons in 1983 after meeting him at a nightclub. Hines said she was about 17 or 18. They were on a couch together in the office, she said.
“The next thing I knew, he was pinning me down and I was trying to fight him and he had his way. I left crying,” she told the LA Times.
Simmons denied the incident occurred.
7. Christina Moore
Christina Moore told the New York Times she met Simmons in 2014 with a friend at the Soho Beach House in Miami during the Art Basel festival. Moore, then 26, said she and her friend went to his room after they met in an elevator. She said Simmons started to run a bath.
According to Moore, Simmons began putting his “hands all over my body, up and down. I felt assaulted.” She said Simmons told her she was a bad girl and threatened to tie her up, according to the Times.
“I felt a lot of shame and guilt at ending up in that situation,” she told the Times.
Simmons told the Times he remembered meeting Moore and her friend. He said they followed him to his room of their own accord and were asking him about getting into parties. His lawyer told the newspaper that he started the bath as a “signal to Ms. Moore and her friend to leave” and denied any misconduct.
8. Natashia Williams-Blach
Natashia Williams-Blach, an actress who appeared in the Simmons-produced “How to Be a Player,” told the Los Angeles Times that he tried to force her to perform oral sex in his house after taking her to a yoga class in 1996 when she was 18.
She said that she was then a UCLA student and removed herself from the situation by saying she had to go to a study group.
9. Erin Beattie
Erin Beattie, a massage therapist, said she met Simmons in Seattle in 2005 at a hotel, where she gave him a massage, according to the Los Angeles Times. She said Simmons made lewd sexual comments toward her.
Beattie said the incident occurred in his room at the Alexis Hotel when she was 24. According to Beattie, he exposed his penis about halfway through the session and, “He was like, ‘Do you want to work this out?’”
She told the newspaper, “He just expected that that was what was going to happen. He couldn’t believe I would say no.”
Simmons recalled joking about a “happy ending,” his attorney told the newspaper. “Mr. Simmons regrets any offense that Ms. Beattie took to that remark either back then or now.”
10. Karen Russell
Karen Russell worked as the general manager at Tantris, a West Hollywood yoga studio Simmons founded.
She told the Los Angeles Times that he used his position to pursue women.
“Not only are you a multimillionaire, now you claim to be a teacher for yoga, you create and open up a sacred space. That’s a whole ’nother level,” she told the Times. “I witnessed this type of behavior condoned by staff.”
Simmons lawyer told the LA Times that Russell is a disgruntled former employee and denied taking advantage of any women at the studio.
11. Lisa Kirk
Lisa Kirk told the Los Angeles Times that Simmons tried to sexually assault her in 1988 at a party at Carmelita’s Reception House in New York City. She was in her 20s and had previously dated one of Simmons’ close friends.
Kirk told the newspaper that Simmons followed her into the bathroom and pushed her into a stall. “I smashed into the wall,” Kirk, now 50, told the newspaper. “It tore my clothes.”
She said Simmons then started to take his erect penis out of his pants and she caught his eye. She said he “looked mortified and literally ran out of the bathroom.”
Kirk told the newspaper she left the club. “It was not something you could just kind of dance away,” she said.
Simmons’ attorney called Kirk’s accusation ” outrageous, unverifiable claims.”
12. Amanda Seales
Comedian Amanda Seales, who stars in HBO’s “Insecure,” told the Los Angeles Times she met Simmons at his office in 2016 to talk about potentially working together.
She said Simmons used vulgar language and asked if they had had sex before. When she said no, Seales said he responded, “Oh, right. ‘Cause I would’ve remembered that, right?'”
Seales first talked about the encounter on Instagram on December 1.
PSA: For anyone who says, “Why’d they wait so long?” You wait because as a woman raised in a patriarchal, “Bros before Hoes”, sexist, “but what were you wearing” society you understand power dynamics and that even when there are witnesses to any level of sexual harassment/assault it will always be you who is questioned for incurring the offense. You wait because you know your vision is bigger than their indiscretion and refuse to let it derail you from your goals. You wait because you don’t even want to acknowledge the fuckery for longer than you have to when you know the odds are there will be no consequences, you’ll be dismissed, or worse defiled yet again and would rather get on with the positive things in your life. You wait because, especially when it’s a black man of prestige, you are conditioned to not speak defamatory truths for fear it will undermine their contributions to the community. Lastly, you wait, because you don’t even wanna believe it ya damn self. No matter how seemingly benign or intrusive, no one wants to endure this, particularly in professional settings. Yet, so many of us have so many of these stories and we come to operate like a clandestine anti-#creeplifes coalition of alerting others to, “watch out for so and so”. Let that be no more. It is not okay. It is not the culture. It is not your fault. Expose them. #igstorygems
She said she then got a call from an employee of Rush Communications, Hasuan Muhammad, who was also in the meeting. “He said he wanted to get my point of view on what happened,” Seales told the newspaper. “I said, ‘There isn’t really anything else to say. You were sitting right next to me. What is the confusion?’ He said he didn’t feel that Russell had done anything wrong and was just being flirty.”
Simmons denied acting inappropriately and Muhammad told the Times, “I never witnessed anything inappropriate occurring in words or action between her and Mr. Simmons.”
13. Kelly Cutrone
Kelly Cutrone, who founded the powerhouse fashion PR firm People’s Revolution and starred in MTV’s “The Hills” and “America’s Next Top Model,” told the New York Post’s Page Six that Simmons tried to rape her in 1991.
Cutrone told Page Six that she was 26 when she bumped into Simmons, a casual acquaintance, at a party and then walked with him to another party. She said he invited her to his apartment and when she declined, Simmons said he needed to go to a friend’s house. She said she would go there with him, but Cutrone believes he took her to his apartment instead.
“He pushed me into his apartment and then he threw me down on the floor and literally tried to grab … take my clothes off of me,” Cutrone told Page Six, “And I started kicking him really, really hard, screaming, telling him to get the f–k off of me. And that I would have him killed if he ever f–king laid a hand on me.”
She said she then ran out of the apartment.
“(Simmons) was just really shaken up and I f–king split. I remember running out the door and getting a cab and all I remember was that I got in a cab and I remember a feeling — which was so crazy — of, ‘Oh my god. Somebody just tried to rape me. What do I do?’ And then the energy of going to the police and pressing charges against him was overwhelming to me,” she told Page Six.
Cutrone said she came forward because of Simmons’ #NotMe statement on social media, saying she was going to “#YeahYou” him.
“It’s a call to every man who wants the right to abuse women to continue,” she said of his latest response to the accusations. “All these guys (who have been accused of rape, including Simmons and Harvey Weinstein) have been doing is, like, go, like, ‘Hey, I’m really, really sorry and I’m going to step away from my business. But you know what, a lot of these women have to go to work everyday because they have to pay bills and they haven’t made $100 million.”