Russell Simmons stepped down from his business Def Jam Recordings after being accused of sexual harassment for the second time.


Simmons has decided to relinquish leadership roles in “all the companies I founded” after scriptwriter Jenny Lumet accused the music mogul of sexual harassment. Lumet is the second woman to come forward with allegations against Simmons.

In a letter addressed to Simmons and published by The Hollywood Reporter, Lumet shared that Simmons forced her to have sex with him in his home in 1991. She says the day before the incident, Simmons sent her 250 balloons in a romantic gesture. Simmons later offered her a ride home after a dinner, but had his driver take them to his house instead, despite Lumet’s repeated requests to be taken to her own home.

“I felt dread and disorientation. I wanted to go home. I said I wanted to go home,” Lumet, the story writer on the Tom Cruise film The Mummy, said. “I didn’t recognize the man next to me. I didn’t know if the situation would turn violent. I remember thinking that I must be crazy; I remember hoping that the Russell I knew would return any moment.”

She described an incident in Simmon’s apartment elevator in which he “pressed me into the corner with your body, your hands and your mouth,” after which she said she gave up and had sex with Simmons for fear of her own safety if she had refused. “There was penetration. At one point you were only semi-erect and appeared frustrated. Angry?” Lumet wrote. “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. 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.”

On Nov. 19, model Keri Claussen Khalighi brought allegations against the music producer, saying that Simmons and director Brett Ratner brought her to Ratner’s apartment, began “yanking off” her clothes, and “tried to force her to have intercourse.”

In his defense, Simmons claims that any interaction with Khalighi was “completely consensual and with Keri’s full participation… Let me be crystal clear and very direct,” he continued, “Abusing women in any way shape or form violates the very core of my being.”


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On Nov. 22, Simmons added: “I have never committed any acts of aggression or violence in my life. I would never knowingly cause fear or harm to anyone.” This statement incited Lumet to share her story.

In another statement on Thursday, however, Simmons released a statement stepping down from his businesses. “I have been informed with great anguish of Jenny Lumet’s recollection about our night together in 1991,” the statement read. “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.”

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