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Def Jam Co-Founder Russell Simmons Accused of Sexual Assault

In a piece published this morning, The Los Angeles Times reports that Simmons allegedly raped then-17-year-old model Keri Claussen Khalighi in 1991.
Photo via Coco Curranski on Flickr

Model Keri Claussen Khalighi has accused Def Jam co-founder Russell Simmons of sexual assault. The allegation was reported this morning by the Los Angeles Times. Khalighi claims that she was coerced into performing oral sex on Simmons in 1991, while the director Brett Ratner watched on. Khalighi alleges that Simmons then penetrated her without consent.

According to the LA Times, Simmons and Ratner took Khalighi to a restaurant in New York for dinner before inviting her back to Simmons’s apartment “to show her a music video they’d been working on.” Simmons, however, began to make sexual advances towards Khalighi, “yanking off her clothes.” From The Times:


“I looked over at Brett and said ‘help me’ and I'll never forget the look on his face,” she recalled. “In that moment, the realization fell on me that they were in it together.”

Khalighi said that Simmons, who was then about twice her age, tried to force her to have intercourse. “I fought it wildly,” she said. He eventually relented and coerced her to perform oral sex, she alleged. “I guess I just acquiesced.”

Ratner, meanwhile, “just sat there and watched,” she said.

Feeling “disgusting,” Khalighi said she went to take a shower. Minutes later, she alleged, Simmons walked up behind her in the shower and briefly penetrated her without her consent. She said she jerked away, then he left. “It hurt so much.”

In a statement, Simmons denied the allegation. “Everything that occurred between Keri and me occurred with her full consent and participation,” he said.

The LA Times piece details a number of other allegations of sexual assault by Ratner, who directed Red Dragon and the Rush Hour series.

Shortly after the Times piece broke, Brooklyn Nine-Nine actor Terry Crews, who recently came forward with his own story of sexual assault by an agent, tweeted an apparent screenshot of an email he’d received from Simmons on November 3. “Did he ever apologize? Give the agent a pass,” Simmons wrote in the email. “Ask that he be reinstated. With great love, all things are possible.”

Crews added his response to the email above the screenshot: "NO ONE GETS A PASS."

Do you have a story about sexual misconduct in the music industry? We want to hear from you. Contact Andrea Domanick confidentially at andrea (dot) domanick (at) vice (dot) com. PGP: .

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