Music mogul Russell Simmons stepped down from Def Jam, which he co-founded, following multiple accusations of sexual assault. The allegations, which Simmons has denied, include two 1991 incidents, one with model Keri Claussen Khalighi, and another with screenwriter Jenny Lumet. Now Simmons has been accused of rape by three more women, and assault by a fourth, in a new report from the NY Times.
One accusation comes from music journalist Toni Sallie, who says she met Simmons while on assignment for trade magazine Black Radio Exclusive in 1987. She describes dating Simmons briefly and remaining friendly with him after breaking up. In 1988, she says she accepted an invitation to a party for Simmons' girlfriend from Simmons; instead, she found an empty apartment, and she recounts to NY Times what followed:
Saying he wanted to show her the apartment, Mr. Simmons led her to his bedroom.
“He pushed me on the bed and jumped on top of me, and physically attacked me,” she said. “We were fighting. I said no.” He raped her, she said.
Sallie didn't report the alleged rape, citing fear of going to the police and worry over her career. She also described seeing Simmons again at a music conference, where, she said:
When he tried to lead her to a dark beach, she resisted and he attacked her, grabbing her by the hair, she said, and even chasing her into the women’s restroom before she escaped to her room, where she barricaded the door.
The second accusation was made by performer Tina Baker, who says Simmons served as her manager in the early 90's. She describes an evening during that time period:
One night in late 1990 or early 1991, she ran into Mr. Simmons at a club, and he invited her back to his apartment to discuss her career. “I didn’t think anything of going,” Ms. Baker said, having been there many times without incident.
This time, though, “it all got really ugly, pretty fast,” Ms. Baker said. As soon as they entered, Mr. Simmons started pouring drinks and trying to kiss her, leading to a scuffle, she said. She recalled “him on top of me, pushing me down and him saying, ‘Don’t fight me,’” Ms. Baker said. She was pinned on the bed. “I did nothing, I shut my eyes and waited for it to end.”
The third woman, Drew Dixon, says she met Simmons through friends, and took a position as an A&R executive at Def Jam. She recounts incidents like being pushed into a broom closet by Simmons, and him exposing himself to her and trying to kiss her. After experiencing success as an executive producer of a soundtrack for music documentary "The Show," she describes a disturbing encounter with Simmons that she says ended in him raping her:
One night, as she left the Bowery Bar near Mr. Simmons’s apartment to get cab money from an A.T.M., she ran into him. “You have the No. 1 record in the country; I’ll order you a car,” she recalled him saying.
Waiting for the ride, she let her guard down and entered his apartment. “I remember realizing I was cornered,” said Ms. Dixon, who said she rejected Mr. Simmons’s sexual advances that night directly — “many ways to say no” — as well as explaining that she had just had a gynecological procedure and could not have sex. He told her he didn’t care, she said, “and I just blacked out.”
“The last thing I remember was him pinning me down to kiss me on the bed,” she said. The next thing she recalled was being in Mr. Simmons’s hot tub, both of them naked and Mr. Simmons gleeful.
Afterwards, Dixon resigned from her position at Def Jam. She later settled out of court with Simmons for sexual harassment and unpaid bills, amounting to $30,000, including legal fees, after threatening to sue.
A fourth woman, Christina Moore, says she met Simmons at Art Basel in Miami in 2014. She describes feeling "duped" when Simmons led her to his hotel room instead of to a bar to meet friends. She recounts her experience with Simmons before she quickly left his room:
Immediately, Mr. Simmons began to run a bath, Ms. Moore said, and then pushed her up against a column in the room — “hands all over my body, up and down,” she said. “I felt assaulted.” He told Ms. Moore that she was a bad girl and threatened to tie her up, she said. Ms. Moore and her friend bolted.
UPDATE: The LA Times published a report of their own on Wednesday, where they spoke with five additional women who accuse Simmons of sexual misconduct. The incidents described in their report date from the 1980's up through others as recent as 2016.
Simmons has denied these most recent accusations in a new statement to the NY Times as well, calling them "patently untrue," "frivolous," and "hurtful." He says further, "I will relentlessly fight against any untruthful character assassination that paints me as a man of violence," and claims he's being extorted. Read Simmons' newest statement in full 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.