Four more women have come forward to accuse rap mogul and Def Jam Records cofounder Russell Simmons of rape. Separate stories published Wednesday by the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times allege a “pattern of violent sexual behavior” by Simmons, beginning in the 1980s and continuing up to 2014. The stories come two weeks after Simmons was first accused of sexual assault in another LA Times report.
The New York Times spoke to three women who specifically accused Simmons of rape: Drew Dixon, who was a rising executive at Def Jam in 1995 when she says that Simmons raped her; Tina Baker, a performer who said that Simmons raped her in the early ’90s, when he was her manager; and Toni Sallie, who was a music journalist for Black Radio Exclusive and met Simmons while on assignment in the late ‘80s. Separately, the Los Angeles Times spoke with Sherri Hines, who was in the all-female hip-hop group Mercedes Ladies; she alleges that Simmons raped her in his office around 1983.
Both reports are clear about the power structures that governed—still govern—the music industry and propagate alleged incidents such as these. At the NY Times, Joe Coscarelli and Melena Ryzik write:
“These women still face powerful industry gatekeepers like Mr. Simmons, whose pedigree and ability to make or break careers allowed his abusive behavior to go unchallenged for decades, his accusers contend[…]
Black women, especially, felt powerless against Mr. Simmons and his cohort in the small world of urban music, with several saying that misconduct against them could go unchecked because their place in the industry was so tenuous. They feared being ostracized, or worse.
In a statement to the New York Times, Simmons admitted that some of his behavior in the past had been disrespectful—calling back to a previous admission that he had been “thoughtless and insensitive”—but rejected the allegations of rape and sexual assault.
“I vehemently deny all these allegations,” he said. “These horrific accusations have shocked me to my core and all of my relations have been consensual.”
Simmons’s statement also emphasized a dedication to “spiritual learning, healing and working on behalf of the communities to which I have devoted my life” and alluded to “witnessing the birth of a new consciousness about women.”
In a separate statement to the Los Angeles Times, Simmons said that his past behavior had never strayed into violence. “I want to restate categorically what I have said previously: I have never been violent or abusive to any women in any way at any time in my entire life.”
Update (10:00 AM EST, December 15): Joe Coscarelli of the New York Times reports that police are investigating the rape claims against Simmons. Per Coscarelli, a "preliminary investigation" is underway, and a law enforcement official is "eager to hear from victims." It remains unclear whether any of Simmons's alleged misconduct might fall outside of the statute of limitations.
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