Russell Simmons stepping aside from companies amid sexual assault claims
Russell Simmons, the founder of hip-hop music label Def Jam Recordings and CEO of Rush Communications, is stepping down from his companies after a second woman came forward claiming he "sexually violated" her.
Jenny Lumet, the screenwriter of "Rachel Getting Married" and "The Mummy" and the daughter of the late filmmaker Sidney Lumet, wrote today in The Hollywood Reporter that Simmons had his driver take them to his apartment, where he later coerced her into having intercourse.
Lumet, who starred with Simmons and his music group RUN DMC in the 1988 film "Tougher Than Leather," wrote that Simmons offered her a ride home in 1991, but instead told his driver to take them to his apartment.
"I didn’t recognize you at that moment. It was disorienting. It was disorienting. I say it twice, now, because you said 'No' twice, then," she wrote in the post, an open letter addressed to Simmons. "I couldn’t open the doors. I couldn’t open the windows. The car was moving. The driver did not stop. He did not take me to 19th Street. He took me to your apartment."
Russell Simmons denies sexually assaulting model when she was 17
Arriving there, Lumet said she felt a sense of "dread" that followed her as Simmons maneuvered her up the elevator to his apartment and into his bedroom.
"I simply did what I was told," she wrote. "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."
After it was over, Lumet said she collected her clothes and left quickly, taking a taxi home. She said she didn't tell anyone about the incident until after the Harvey Weinstein allegations made news. Though she saw Simmons socially in the years in between, she said, "the dynamic between us was different, muted."
And even now, after coming forward, she said she feels "guilt, and so much shame."
"There is an excruciating internal reckoning," Lumet wrote. "As a woman of color, I cannot express how wrenching it is to write this about a successful man of color."
In a statement provided to ABC News, Simmons said his memory of the evening is different from Lumet's, but he acknowledged 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 and humbly apologize," Simmons wrote, adding that he was stepping aside from his companies to "commit myself to continuing my personal growth, spiritual learning and above all to listening."
Earlier this month Simmons was accused of sexually assaulting model Keri Claussen Khalighi when she was 17. Simmons denied the accusation, saying in a statement to ABC News that what happened between him and Khalighi was consensual. "Abusing women in any way shape or form violates the very core of my being," he wrote at the time.
Read his latest statement in its entirety below:
"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 and humbly 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. I will convert the studio for yogic science into a not-for-profit center of learning and healing. As for me, I will step aside and commit myself to continuing my personal growth, spiritual learning and above all to listening."