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- Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons has stepped down from his companies after a new sexual assault allegation.
- In an article for The Hollywood Reporter, screenwriter Jenny Lumet alleged that Simmons sexually assaulted her in 1991.
- Simmons was accused of sexual assault a week earlier by former model Keri Claussen Khalighi, but he denied the allegations.
- Simmons said in a statement that Lumet’s “feelings of fear and intimidation are real,” and that he would step down from his various businesses.
- HBO announced Thursday that the network will drop Simmons’ name from his upcoming HBO comedy program, “All Def Comedy.”
Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons has stepped down from his various companies after a new sexual assault allegation, Business Insider can confirm.
The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday published a letter that screenwriter Jenny Lumet (“Rachel Getting Married”) wrote to Simmons, alleging that Simmons sexually assaulted her in 1991.
Last week, Simmons was accused of sexual assault by former model Keri Claussen Khalighi in 1991, and Simmons “completely and unequivocally” denied the allegations.
In the THR article, Lumet wrote that she met Simmons around 1987, when Simmons and Rick Rubin where working on a film with rap group Run-DMC. She said Simmons “pursued [her], lightly, on and off” over the next four years, and that she “rebuffed” him.
Lumet went on to describe a disturbing encounter with Simmons in 1991, when she was 24.
She said Simmons offered her a ride home from the Manhattan restaurant Indochine one night, and that Simmons’ driver locked the doors of his car after Simmons told the driver “No” multiple times when Lumet asked to be dropped off at her apartment. Instead, Simmons took her to his apartment.
“I felt dread and disorientation. I wanted to go home. I said I wanted to go home,” Lumet wrote. “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.”
Lumet said Simmons used his “size to maneuver [her]” into his apartment building and up to his apartment bedroom, where she said she protested and then “simply did what I was told.”
“There was penetration. 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,” Lumet wrote.
In response to the article, Simmons has stepped down from his various businesses, including Rush Communications. His representatives provided Business Insider with the following statement, in which Simmons says that Lumet’s “feelings of fear and intimidation are real”:
“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 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.”
Following the allegation on Thursday, HBO announced that the network would remove Simmons’ name from his upcoming HBO comedy program, “All Def Comedy.”
“HBO will be airing ‘All Def Comedy’ as planned,” HBO said in a statement. “However, Russell Simmons will not appear in the new series and we will be removing his name from the show moving forward. The series is a platform for promising and upcoming comedians and we do not want to deprive them of an opportunity to showcase their talents to a national audience. We have no other projects with Russell Simmons.”