Legendary music and TV producer Russell Simmons is calling it quits.
Simmons made the shocking announcement that he’ll be indefinitely stepping aside from his many business ventures after a second explosive sexual assault allegation was waged against him.
Simmons has had an impressive career to say the least. As well as co-founding Def Jam Recordings, Simmons produced hit HBO series Def Comedy Jam and Def Poetry Jam. He also co-produced the 1996 film The Nutty Professor, starring Eddie Murphy. But, that all may be coming to an end, at least with Simmons at the helm.
Last week former model Keri Claussen Khalighi recounted a horrifying encounter with Simmons. Khalighi claimed Simmons raped her while filmmaker Brett Ratner “sat there and watched.”
Simmons initially denied the allegations with a quick statement saying he “never committed any acts of aggression or violence in his life.”
The music mogul’s response didn’t sit well Jenny Lumet, an award-winning screenwriter, and it prompted her to write about her own experience with Simmons, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Lumet who is granddaughter of singer/actress Lena Horne, recalled a horrifying night where Simmons attacked her after offering her a ride home. She said the two had gotten to know each other and had a friendly relationship. But that all changed when Simmons reportedly ordered his driver not take her home.
In an open letter to Simmons Lumet wrote:
I didn’t understand, so I said: “Russell?”
I said, again, to the driver: “19th Street.”
Again you said to the driver: “No. ”
Then, the car doors locked. It was loud. The noise made me jump.
Lumet went on to recount the paralizing fear she felt:
I felt dread. I was tremulous. Off my feet. I felt an intense need to keep both of you calm. Was there a time or a space to run? I have no idea. Would somebody else have run? I have no idea. There were two men. One of whom obeyed the other. It was an overwhelming feeling.
Lumet recalled stopping at an unfamiliar place before Simmons began forcing himself on her. The encounter escalated to “penetration” by the time they were in a bedroom. Lumet insists she was frightened and overwhelmed, and claims the sexual encounter was an assault she in no way welcomed nor invited. Lumet said she feels guilt for the encounter but couldn’t remain silent and leave other sexual assault victims “twisting in the wind.”
It was Lumet’s personal testimony that lead to Simmons’ announcement that he’ll be stepping aside from his music business.
In a statement Simmons said:
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.
Simmons’ announcement will rock the entertainment industry as he’s become an icon both in music and film.
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