Russell Simmons takes exit from companies amid sexual assault scandal

The hip-hop mogul says he doesn't want to be a 'distraction'

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After being accused of sexual assault, Russell Simmons has announced that he will be stepping down from his companies.

In a statement announcing his decision, Simmons said that he did not want to be a distraction for his companies at a time when American culture is going through “a time of great transition.”

“The companies will now be run by a new and diverse generation of extraordinary executives who are moving the culture and consciousness forward,” Simmons said in the statement, going on to add, “As for me, I will step aside and commit myself to continuing my personal growth, spiritual learning and above all to listening.”

–Russell Simmons pens lengthy response to sexual assault–

The hip-hop mogul was accused of forcing writer Jenny Lumet to have sex with him in 1991. Lumet wrote about her experience in a guest column in the Hollywood Reporter.

“There is so much guilt, and so much shame,” Lumet wrote. “There is an excruciating internal reckoning. As a woman of color, I cannot express how wrenching it is to write this about a successful man of color. Again, shame about who I was years ago, choices made years ago. In this very moment, I feel a pang to protect your daughters. I don’t think you are inclined to protect mine.”

Simmons, who has apologized to Lumet for his actions, said that he remembered the encounter differently but that Lumet’s “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 said.

Earlier this month, he was also accused of the same accusations by model Keri Claussen Khalighi. She said Simmons and and director Brett Ratner lured her to his apartment where the alleged assault took place. Another woman, Tanya Reid, also accused him of forcing her to perform oral sex on Ratner.

Both Simmons and Ratner denied the allegations.

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