Russell Simmons has released a statement announcing his decision to step down from his companies. This follows a second sexual assault allegation stemming back to 1991 that accuses the Def Jam founder of forcing writer Jenny Lumet to have sex with him. This is in addition to a separate sexual misconduct allegation from the same time period that came to light earlier this month, in which Simmons is accused of assaulting a 17-year-old model while Brett Ratner watched.
This latest accusation comes from Lumet’s guest column in The Hollywood Reporter, which responds to Simmons’ denial of the previous allegations against him. Lumet’s story recounts a night where she thought Simmons was getting her a ride home, but locked her in his car with him and refused to take her home. It’s a harrowing and vivid account, detailing the the fear Lumet felt in being forced into the situation by Simmons and his driver.
“You didn’t punch me, drag me or verbally threaten me. You used your size to maneuver me, quickly, into the elevator. I said “Wait. Wait.” I felt dread. I was very, very sad. I didn’t know if the driver was a further threat, or an ally. I was both relieved and terrified when he did not get into the elevator. Alone in the elevator, you pressed me into the corner with your body, your hands and your mouth.”
It goes on to describe the nonconsensual sexual act, and the years of pain that it caused Lumet. The story prompted a quick response from Simmons, in which he continues to deny the allegations against him, though admitting to being “thoughtless and insensitive in some of my relationships.” Simmons goes on to resign from his companies, claiming to not “want to be a distraction.”
Read Simmons’ full statement below, given to The Hollywood Reporter:
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.