The allegations against Russell Simmons went from bad to worse last week when 12 women accused the music mogul of sexual misconduct ranging from harassment to assault over the course of three decades.
On November 30, the Def Jam co-founder stepped down from his numerous posts as head of several companies, including Rush Communications, after Jenny Lumet wrote a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter describing the rape she allegedly suffered at Simmons’ hands. While he denied forcing her to have sex, he apologized for “thoughtless and insensitive” behavior.
Russell Simmons’ statement read in part:
“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.”
The next day, Simmons responded to the claims via social media by insisting he would defend himself against the numerous allegations against him. He included the hashtag #NotMe, presumably in response to the #MeToo movement.
Here is Russell Simmons Twitter post that he later deleted:
“Today, I begin to properly defend myself. I will prove without any doubt that I am innocent of all rape charges. Today, I will focus on “The Original Sin” (Keri Claussen), the claim that created this insane pile on of my #MeToo. Stay tuned! We’ll share information today… And tomorrow the case of Jenny Lumet. My intention is not to diminish the #MeToo movement in anyway, but instead hold my accusers accountable. #NotMe Again, this is not a movement against or even in conjunction with #Metoo. It’s just a statement about my innocence.”
Here’s a rundown of shocking details from his alleged victims and his responses to their claims:
Sherri Hines – 1983
The Details: A former member of the hip hop group Mercedes Ladies, Hines says Simmons raped her in his office when she was 17 or 18. “I was trying to fight him and he had his way. I left crying,” she told the LA Times. She included an eerily similar situation for the main characters in her 2008 novel, Mercedes Ladies.
The Denial: “While there are many women with whom I have shared extraordinary relationships, whether through work or love, I regret with my whole heart any conduct that has led anyone to say or think of me in the ways that are currently being written,” he told the LA Times.
Lisa Kirk – 1988
The Details: Sallie was working as a reporter for Black Radio Exclusive when she claims Simmons assaulted her at his NYC apartment. She alleges he told her he was hosting a party for his girlfriend, but no one else was there when she arrived. “He pushed me on the bed and jumped on top of me, and physically attacked me,” she told NYT. “We were fighting. I said no.” She also claims he assaulted her again a year later after the two ran into each other at a hotel in Florida. She says he tried to lead her to a dark beach and grabbed her hair. What’s more, she claims he chased her into the women’s restroom when she refused.
The Denial: In an Instagram post, Simmons promised he would “properly” defend himself and “prove without any doubt that I am innocent of all rape charges.”
Lisa Kirk – 1988
The Details: Kirk told the LA Times that Simmons followed her into a restroom and tore off her clothes after pushing her into a stall at Carmelita’s Reception House in NYC. According to Kirk, he pulled out his penis and then “ran out of the bathroom” when they made eye contact.
The Denial: “I have enormous respect for the women’s movement worldwide and their struggle for respect, dignity, equality and power,” Simmons said in response to the numerous allegations against him.
Tina Baker – 1990/91
The Details: Baker alleges that Simmons raped her while he was managing her music career. She told the NYT, “It all got really ugly, pretty fast,” when Simmons took her to his apartment, poured drinks and tried to kiss her. “He was on top of me, pushing me down and him saying, ‘Don’t fight me,’” she told the newspaper. “I did nothing, I shut my eyes and waited for it to end.”
The Denial: His lawyer issued a statement saying Simmons had “no recollection of ever having any sexual relations with Ms. Baker.”
Kerri Clauson Khalighi – 1991
The Details: The model accused Simmons of sexually assaulting her at his apartment while Brett Ratner was in the room and refused to help when she was just 17 years old.
“I looked over at Brett and said ‘help me,’ and I’ll never forget the look on his face,” she told The Los Angeles Times. “In that moment, the realization fell on me that they were in it together. I fought it wildly.”
The Denial: Simmons has denied Khalighi’s claims and took a polygraph test to attempt to clear his name.
Jenny Lumet – 1991
The Details: The Mummy screenwriter says Simmons raped her at his apartment after a dinner date when she was 24 years old. “You used your size to maneuver me, quickly, into the elevator,” she wrote in a column in The Hollywood Reporter. “You pressed me into the corner with your body, your hands and your mouth.”
The Denial: After Lumet published her column in THR, Simmons stepped down from his companies and issued the following statement.
“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.”
Kelly Cutrone – 1991
The Details: The famous fashion PR maven told Page Six that she narrowly escaped a violent attack from Simmons in his NYC apartment when she was 26. She got away after kicking him and bolting for the door after he attempted to force her into sex.
The Denial: While Simmons hasn’t responded to Cutrone’s claims directly, she says she went public with her story after seeing his #NotMe hashtag. “The #NotMe thing? I’m going to do a #YeahYou. F–k you,” she said.
Drew Dixon – 1995
The Details: The former Def Jam Recordings exec says Simmons raped her at his NYC apartment. She also alleges she suffered depression after “prolonged and aggressive sexual harassment” from Simmons, who was her boss at the record label he co-founded. He reportedly asked her to sit on his lap during a meeting and constantly exposed his erect penis to her at the office. Fending him off “was a full time job,” she told NYT.
“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,” she said. “The last thing I remember was him pinning me down to kiss me on the bed…The next thing she recalled was being in Mr. Simmons’s hot tub, both of them naked and Mr. Simmons gleeful. (Ms. Dixon said she had not been drinking and did not think she had been drugged; rather, she said, she had disassociated from the experience.)
She says Simmons later apologized for his bad behavior.
“He said, ‘I have daughters and I do yoga now, Drew, and I know what I did was wrong, and I’m sorry,’” she said.
The Denial: While Simmons maintains he has never raped anyone, he admitted to “inappropriate conduct” with Ms. Dixon while she worked at Def Jam through his attorney.
Natasha Williams-Blach – 1996
The Details: The How To Be a Player actress told The Los Angeles Times Simmons attempted to force her to perform oral sex on him at his home after the pair attended a yoga class together when she was just 18 years old.
The Denial: “These new stories range from the patently untrue to frivolous and hurtful claims,” Simmons told The LA Times. “I want to restate categorically what I have said previously: I have never been violent or abusive to any women in any way at any time in my entire life.”
Erin Beattie – 2005
The Details: Beattie told The Los Angeles Times that Simmons exposed himself to her and asked her to touch his penis during a massage at the Alexis Hotel in Seattle. She alleges he returned for another massage the next day and made several “racial and sexual” jokes.
The Denial: Simmons has not responded to Ms. Beattie’s claims.
Christina Moore – 2014
The Details: Moore claims Simmons assaulted her at the Soho House in Miami while her friend was in the room when she was 26. She told the NYT, “I felt assaulted,” after he allegedly ran a bath, pushed her up against a wall, and ran his hands “all over my body, up and down.” She and her friend eventually exited the room. “I felt a lot of shame and guilt at ending up in that situation,” she said.
The Denial: “Mr. Simmons recalled meeting Ms. Moore and her friend. He said the women followed him to his room of their own accord and asked him about getting into parties. His lawyer said running the bath was Mr. Simmons’s ‘signal to Ms. Moore and her friend to leave.’ He denied any misconduct,” according to NYT.
Karen Russell – 2017
The Details: The former manager of Simmons’ Tantris Yoga Studio says he took advantage of his position to prey on women.
“Not only are you a multimillionaire, now you claim to be a teacher for yoga, you create and open up a sacred space. That’s a whole ’nother level,” she told The LA Times. “I witnessed this type of behavior condoned by staff.”
The Denial: “I vehemently deny all these allegations. These horrific accusations have shocked me to my core and all of my relations have been consensual,” Simmons said in a statement to the New York Times.