Russell Simmons Responds to Sexual Assault Claims

He issued a lengthy statement late Wednesday, following allegations made over the weekend.
November 23, 2017, 12:16pm

Over the weekend, Russell Simmons, the co-founder of Def Jam Recordings, was accused of sexual assault by the model Keri Claussen Khalighi, who told her story to the Los Angeles Times. Khalighi alleges that Simmons coerced her into performing oral sex on him, and then briefly penetrated her as she showered.

Simmons denied the claims in the original Times story, and has now released a longer statement via the Hollywood Reporter. In the statement, he acknowledges what he calls "confrontation against an entrenched system" as symbolised by the current wave of abusers being named by previously disempowered victims, but continues to deny the allegations made against him:

I also know from recent painful personal experience that some recollections can be cast in a light away from the actual facts.

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.

He also apologises to "any women from my past who I may have offended," but claims "I never committed any acts of aggression or violence in my life. I would never knowingly cause fear or harm to anyone." Earlier this month, Variety reported that Simmons and Ratner were investigated for alleged sexual battery in 2001 against an unnamed victim, aged 29 at the time. Prosecutors didn't press charges in 2001, citing insufficient evidence in the case to do so.

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: bit.ly/2tZT0WT .

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