Russell Simmons has stepped away from his companies following a second allegation of sexual misconduct, though the Def Jam founder again denied ever being violent.
Rachel Getting Married screenwriter Jenny Lumet — the daughter of filmmaker Sidney Lumet and granddaughter of singer Lena Horne — wrote an essay published by The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday in which she recalled a night around 1991 when Simmons took her to his New York apartment and had sex with her, despite her repeated demands that he stop.
“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. 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,” wrote Lumet.
“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.”
Simmons says in a statement released after the essay that although Lumet’s memory of the night is “very different” from his, it’s clear to him “that her feelings of fear and intimidation are real.”
He apologized for being “thoughtless and insensitive” in some of his relationships and said he would resign from his businesses because, “I don’t want to be a distraction.”
Lumet wrote that she never told anyone about that night until last month after allegations lodged against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein unleashed a torrent of stories about sexual misbehaviour in multiple fields. She said she went public after model Keri Claussen Khalighi said Simmons coerced her to perform a sex act and later penetrated her without her consent in his New York apartment in 1991.
Simmons, 60, denied those allegations, saying everything that occurred between himself and Khalighi was completely consensual and with her “full participation.” He suggested that Khalighi’s accusation came from feeling shame.
“I’m deeply saddened and truly shocked to learn of Keri’s assertions as to what happened over the course of that weekend,” Simmons said. He later wrote that he “never committed any acts of aggression or violence in my life” or would “never knowingly cause fear or…