Russell Simmons Accused of Rape, Sexual Harassment By Multiple Women

Three women accused record mogul Russell Simmons of sexual assault, and another claimed he sexually harassed her, in a new New York Times exposé. The stories span decades, from 1988 through 2014, and suggest patterns in Simmons’ alleged behavior.

Many of the women claimed Simmons would invite them back to his apartment or hotel room. They said he would often draw a bath, and in some cases push them against a wall or a bed and try to kiss them. They also said he had a proclivity for showing them his erect penis.

In a statement to Rolling Stone furnished by his lawyer, Simmons said he “vehemently” denied the allegations. “These horrific accusations have shocked me to my core, and all of my relations have been consensual,” he said. “I am blessed to have shared extraordinary relationships, whether through work or love, with many great women; and I have enormous respect for the women’s movement worldwide and their struggle for respect, dignity, equality and power. I am devastated by any reason I may have given to anyone to say or think of me in the ways that are currently being described.”

Last month, Simmons announced he was stepping down from the various companies he led after screenwriter Jenny Lumet accused him of a 1991 sexual assault in piece for The Hollywood Reporter. HBO subsequently severed its business ties with Simmons, removing his name and likeness from an airing of All Def Comedy.

In the New York Times article, Toni Sallie said she first encountered Simmons when she was a journalist for the trade magazine Black Radio Exclusive. They briefly dated and in 1988, she recalled that he invited her to a party in his apartment, but was the only one there when she arrived. Allegedly, he led her to his bedroom and pushed her onto the bed. “We were fighting,” she said. “I said no.” Simmons’ lawyer told the Times that he and Sallie dated but denied the rape allegation. She said that at a music conference in South Florida a year later that he tried to lead her to a dark beach and pursued her, grabbing her hair, and followed her into a women’s bathroom before she eventually found refuge in her room. Simmons’ lawyer denied this account, too.

Another woman, onetime Def Jam label exec Drew Dixon claimed Simmons began sexually harassing her in 1995, telling her about fantasies he had about her and inviting her to sit on his lap in a meeting. He also exposed himself to her in his office. She said that he raped her in his apartment that year. She said she blacked out and came to in Simmons’ hot tub, where both of them were naked. (Simmons’ lawyer said they did not have sex.) She said she left Def Jam shortly thereafter for a post at Arista, but soon felt harassed again by that company’s boss, L.A. Reid, who apologized in a statement to the Times if his words were misinterpreted.

Tina Baker, a singer who recorded as Tina B., claimed that in 1990 or 1991 Simmons invited her back to his apartment, where the exec started pouring drinks and attempting to kiss her. She said he pushed her down and said, “Don’t fight me.” “I did nothing,” she told the Times. “I shut my eyes and waited for it to end.” She stayed in touch with him for professional reasons and recalled an instance in his apartment, where she’d gone for a business meeting. He was exercising and when he stopped, he pulled out his penis and moved toward her. Simmons’ lawyer claimed the exec could not recall a sexual relationship with Baker.

And in 2014, Christina Moore said she and a friend ran into Simmons at Art Basel in Miami. She told him she wanted to meet friends at a bar, and he allegedly told her he knew where to go, leading her to his room. Once there, she said Simmons ran a bath and pushed her up against a column in the room, groping her. He told her she was a bad girl and said he’d tie her up, she told the Times. Moore and her friend then left the room. Simmons’ lawyer denied misconduct and said that running the bath was meant as a cue for the women to leave.

Sallie said she reported her story to the police this year. The police said that the accusation fell out of the statute of limitations and referred her to the special victims’ unit, which would catalogue her complaint incase others arose.

Dixon said she ran into Simmons years after her alleged assault at an industry event. “He said, ‘I have daughters and I do yoga now, Drew, and I know what I did was wrong, and I’m sorry.'”

Simmons began his career in the early Eighties, promoting parties and formed the label Def Jam with Rick Rubin, signing LL Cool J and the Beastie Boys, among others. He left the company in 1999, selling his portion of it for a reported $100 million, according to the Times. Outside of music, he launched Def Comedy Jam for HBO, a clothing line called Phat Farm and has since explored the nonprofit world.

“What I will not accept is responsibility for what I have not done,” Simmons said in his statement. “I have conducted my life with a message of peace and love. Although I have been candid about how I have lived in books and interviews detailing my flaws, I will relentlessly fight against any untruthful character assassination that paints me as a man of violence.”

Russell Simmons’ full statement:

I vehemently deny all these allegations. These horrific accusations have shocked me to my core and all of my relations have been consensual.

I am blessed to have shared extraordinary relationships, whether through work or love, with many great women; and I have enormous respect for the women’s movement worldwide and their struggle for respect, dignity, equality and power. I am devastated by any reason I may have given to anyone to say or think of me in the ways that are currently being described. In recent weeks, some former business, creative and romantic partners have aired grievances as claims I categorically reject. In some of these instances, financial motives and direct contradictory witness testimony has been supplied to the media, which has been completely left out of stories. In the last few days, one woman attempted to extort me for $500,000 only to recant her ridiculous claim. The current allegations sent to me by The New York Times and Los Angeles Times range from the patently untrue to the frivolous and hurtful. The presumption of innocent until proven guilty must not be replaced by “Guilty by Accusation”

I have already apologized for the instances of thoughtlessness in my consensual relations. I have separated myself from my businesses and charities in order to not become a distraction. I have re-dedicated myself to spiritual learning, healing and working on behalf of the communities to which I have devoted my life. I have accepted that I can and should get dirt on my sleeves if it means witnessing the birth of a new consciousness about women. What I will not accept is responsibility for what I have not done. I have conducted my life with a message of peace and love. Although I have been candid about how I have lived in books and interviews detailing my flaws, I will relentlessly fight against any untruthful character assassination that paints me as a man of violence.

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