Following further allegations of sexual misconduct, Def Jam Recordings co-founder and producer Russell Simmons has stepped down from his business roles. The allegations were raised by screenwriter Jenny Lumet and published via open letter in the Hollywood Reporter on Thursday, November 30.
Lumet's account, in which she describes being coerced into sex, follows the account of model Keri Claussen Khaligi, in which she claimed that Simmons had sexually assaulted her in 1991. After Khaligi's claims, Simmons wrote a statement denying any wilful wrongdoing. Now, he has said in a further statement (here via the Los Angeles Times) that while Lumet's "memory of that evening is very different from mine, it is now clear to me that her feelings of fear and intimidation are real." As a result, he has said he will be stepping away from his businesses—Def Jam Recordings and its associated properties, and yoga brand Tantris—to make way for "a new and diverse generation of extraordinary executives" in the wake of the allegations against him:
"I have been informed with great anguish of Jenny Lumet’s recollection about our night together in 1991. I know Jenny and her family and have seen her several times over the years since the evening she described. 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. While I have never been violent, I have been thoughtless and insensitive in some of my relationships over many decades and I sincerely and humbly apologise.
“This is a time of great transition. 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 centre 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."
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