Sex & Gender

russell simmons steps down from his companies after sexual assault allegation by lena horne’s granddaughter

November 30, 2017
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Earlier this morning, hip-hop icon and business mogul Russell Simmons stepped down from leadership roles at each of his businesses after another woman, screenwriter Jenny Lumet, came
forward with allegations of sexual assault against Simmons
. The announcement includes Simmons departure from Def-Jam Records, which he co-founded, and Rush Communications.

Lumet, an award-winning screenwriter (Rachel Getting Married, The Mummy), is the daughter of filmmaker Sidney Lumet and granddaughter of singer/activist Lena Horne, penned a sobering and terrifying letter detailing her 1991 interaction with Simmons in an exclusive report for The Hollywood Reporter.

Following Lumet’s disturbing account of their interaction, Simmons doesn’t exactly deny crossing lines or forcing Lumet to participate in something that she didn’t want to, but he does insist that he was not physically violent with her:

“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 THR. “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 latest allegation against Simmons follows the Los Angeles Times report in which a then 17-year-old woman, Keri Claussen Khalighi, claimed producer Brett Ratner and Simmons sexually assaulted her, also in 1991. Khalighi’s highly disturbing re-telling, the accusations she makes about her assault, and the meticulous reporting by the L.A. Times alleges not only individual patterns of sexual misconduct and assault, but describes Ratner’s legendary estate, Hilhaven Lodge, as a terrifying “private playground” where other accused predators, like filmmaker James Toback, allegedly systematically assault countless women.

“I looked over at Brett and said ‘help me’ and I’ll never forget the look on his face,” Khalighi recalled in the Times report. “In that moment, the realization fell on me that they were in it together.”

At the time of the report, Simmons denied the allegations made by Khalighi.

In 2001, Russel Simmions and Brett Ratner were investigated for a
different alleged sexual battery