In a column for The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday, screenwriter Jenny Lumet (Rachel Getting Married, The Mummy) said that Def Jam Recordings cofounder Russell Simmons sexually assaulted her in 1991. Lumet’s detailed account describes how Simmons offered to give her a ride home from a restaurant one night, but when she accepted, his driver instead took them to his house. Lumet said Simmons pressured her into going into his apartment, and that she feared what would happen if he became angry. “At that point,” she wrote, “I simply did what I was told.” She continued:
There was penetration. At one point you were only semi-erect and appeared frustrated. Angry? I remember being afraid that you would deem that my fault and become violent. I did not know if you were angry, but I was afraid that you were.
Simmons, along with filmmaker Brett Ratner, was previously accused of sexual assault and harassment by ex-model Keri Claussen Khalighi on November 19 in the Los Angeles Times. On November 22, Simmons denied the allegations in a column for The Hollywood Reporter, saying, “I can sleep at night because I know who I am. And I know who I was. I never committed any acts of aggression or violence in my life.” Simmons’s denial is what compelled Lumet to step forward and share her own experience.
In a statement responding to Lumet’s allegations, Simmons said he would step down from his businesses to “commit myself to continuing my personal growth, spiritual learning and above all to listening.”
“I have been informed with great anguish of Jenny Lumet’s recollection about our night together in 1991,” Simmons said. “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 apologize.”