By Scott T. Sterling
Russell Simmons is stepping down as the head of his companies following sexual assault allegations.
Simmons has been accused of assaulting screenwriter Jenny Lumet in 1991, with Lumet detailing the incident in a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter.
Lumet explains how she met Simmons in the social orbit of New York City nightlife of the late ’80s, and how the seemingly personable and charming Def Jam co-founder had “lightly” pursued her over the years.
She goes on to reveal how on a night in 1991, Simmons offered to give her a ride home after seeing him at a local restaurant. It was during that ride that instead of taking her home as promised, Lumet says she was then locked inside the vehicle and Simmons ordered his driver to take her to his apartment, where he raped her.
“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,” Simmons said in a statement regarding the allegations. “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,” Simmons added. “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.”
Lumet’s allegations follow claims by model Keri Claussen Khalighi made earlier this month that the hip-hop mogul harassed and assaulted her as well.