In an essay published by the Hollywood Reporter on Thursday, screenwriter Jenny Lumet alleged that in 1991, Russell Simmons forced her to go to his apartment and then have sex with him. The latest allegations followed a similar claim last week when model Keri Claussen Khalighi alleged in the Los Angeles Times that Simmons sexually assaulted her while director Brett Ratner watched. She was 17 at the time the alleged assault occurred.
Simmons disputed Khalighi’s account, but announced that he was stepping back from his companies in light of the new allegations.
“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,” Simmons said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “While I have never been violent, I have been thoughtless and insensitive in some of my relationships over many decades and I sincerely apologize.”
“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,” Simmons added.
Simmons, who c-founded Def Jam Records, has been a seminal figure in the development of hip-hop. In recent years, he has positioned himself as a social activist and currently serves as the head of the chairman of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, which promotes harmony between diverse communities.