The Def Jam Records and Phat Farm founder, Russell Simmons, has officially stepped down from his throne after another woman has come forward accusing him of sexual assault.
The first accusation against Russell came to light on November 19th when model Keri Claussen Khalighi said Russell sexually assaulted her when she was just 17-years-old. Keri sharing her story has now sparked screen-writer Jenny Lumet to come forward with her recalling of an inappropriate encounter with Russell, in an open letter to The Hollywood Reporter.
Jenny’s lengthy op-ed details how Russell pursued her “lightly, on and off, over a course of years.” He would say he “had a thing for a “little yellow girl”.”
“Once you sent me 250 balloons with the note “Please baby, please baby, baby, baby, baby” after a character in a Spike Lee movie,” she explains. “It was light, fun, and flattering. We continued to socialize in the same places. We continued to have a large group of mutual friends.”
Jenny then goes into a time Russell offered her a ride home. When she told the driver her address, Russell allegedly responded saying “no” where she told the driver her address again, but Russell once again said “no.” Jenny clarifies that at no point did she ever say, “’Russell, I will go home with you,’ ‘come home with me’ or ‘I will have sex with you,’ or ‘I have the desire to have sex with you.'”
The letter then explains how Russell ushered her into his apartment lobby and once alone in the elevator he made his move on her. Once they reached his pad, they made their way into Russell’s bedroom despite her asking him to “wait.”
They had sex, where Jenny notes, “At one point you were only semi-erect and appeared frustrated. Angry? I remember being afraid that you would deem that my fault and become violent. I did not know if you were angry, but I was afraid that you were.”
Russell has responded to Jenny’s accusations against him in the following statement:
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 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.