Russell Simmons Responds to Sexual Assault Allegations

Russell Simmons is one of the latest entertainment power brokers to be accused of sexual assault and harassment.  Earlier this month, allegations were made against the Def Jam Recordings honcho by model Keri Claussen Khalighi.

In an article in the Los Angeles Times, Khalighi said that when she was 17, she met Simmons and Brett Ratner at a casting call. The men later took her to dinner in New York City and then brought her to Simmons’ apartment to watch a music video they had worked on together.  That’s when Khalighi alleges that Simmons forced her to engage in oral sex with him while Ratner watched. She continued that Simmons also briefly had sexual intercourse with her against her will while she was taking a shower. Ratner has also been accused of sexual misconduct by several women, including actresses Olivia Munn and Natasha Henstridge.

Simmons, 60, denies Khalighi’s allegations and elaborated on the incident in a letter to The Hollywood Reporter. We’ve highlighted an excerpt below:

“In my case, three witnesses [Anthony McNair and two anonymous witnesses] have signed statements that our experiences that weekend with Keri Claussen Khalighi 26 years ago were consensual. My longtime loathing of any form of violence and abuse has been woven into all of my personal interactions, as most who know me will attest.

In our meeting many years later, and subsequent conversations, Keri never accused me of what she has said publicly. She insisted I was not violent. She did tell me her boyfriend and many others found out about our long weekend together and she said she was ashamed by that discovery. I am sorry for the embarrassment she recounted to me.

I have made choices that have offended some of the women in my life. It’s not cool to be a playboy and a new consciousness understands this. Now, as I hear these voices, I do as well. Though never abusive in any way, my remarks were often cavalier and thoughtless, and for this I am humbled. I am a work in progress. I am human. The fact that I come from the world of music or a specific place or generation justifies nothing.

That has been an ongoing deep transition in my life. As a yogi I believe intent is very important. My intent always came from a joyful, playful place. I can sleep at night because I know who I am. And I know who I was. I never committed any acts of aggression or violence in my life. I would never knowingly cause fear or harm to anyone. For any women from my past who I may have offended, I sincerely apologize. I am still evolving.”

Simmons’s full letter can be read here.

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