The accusations against Russell Simmons are growing. One month after he stepped down from his multiple businesses following allegations that he sexually assaulted screenwriter Jenny Lumet in 1991, three more women accused him of rape in a bombshell New York Times exposé on Dec. 13.
Singer Tina Baker, former Def Jam employee Drew Dixon, and music journalist Toni Sallie all shared their horrifying stories of being raped by Russell, between 1988 and 1995. Toni said Russell lured her to his house by inviting her to a party, but it was just the two of them when she arrived. “He pushed me on the bed and jumped on top of me, and physically attacked me," she said. "We were fighting. I said no.” Something similar happened to Tina, who was managed by Russell at the time. “It all got really ugly, pretty fast." She said he pinned her to the bed, and “I did nothing, I shut my eyes and waited for it to end.”
In a statement to the outlet, Russell said “I vehemently deny all these allegations. These horrific accusations have shocked me to my core and all of my relations have been consensual.” He also insisted he greatly respects women.
One month earlier, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed that Russell was leaving his companies. He said in a statement that he was taking this time to “commit [himself] to continuing [his] personal growth, spiritual learning, and above all to listening.”
In the same statement, the 60-year-old confirmed that he had an interaction with original accuser Jenny.“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 tat he feelings of fear and intimidation are real,” he said. “While I have never been violent, I have been thoughtless and insensitive in some of my relationships over many decades and I sincerely apologize.” He continued, “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.”
Russell’s accuser, screenwriter Jenny Lumet. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
It all began with a chilling letter from Jenny to Russell, published by The Hollywood Reporter, in which she described their encounter with horrifying detail. “You had a car and driver that evening. Sometime later, you offered me a ride to my home. I said, sure. During the making of the RUN DMC movie, I had been in vans with you and other crew members. I don’t recall having accepted a ride home alone with you before that night,” she wrote. “At no time that night did I say: ‘Russell, I will go home with you.’ Or, ‘Come home with me.’ Or ‘I will have sex with you.’ Or ‘I have the desire to have sex with you.’”
She recalled that in the car, she gave the driver her own address twice, but both times the media mogul told the driver “No,” before locking the doors. “I didn’t recognize you at that moment. It was disorienting. It was disorienting. I say it twice, now, because you said ‘No’ twice, then,” she wrote.
From there, she described entering the building from a side entrance, and Russell using his size to “maneuver” her into the elevator and up to his apartment building. “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,” she wrote. “I desperately wanted to keep the situation from escalating. I wanted you to feel that I was not going to be difficult. I wanted to stay as contained as I could.”
She concluded, “There is so much guilt, and so much shame. There is an excrutiating internal reckoning. As a woman of color, I cannot express how wrenching it is to write this about a successful man of color. Again, shame about who I was years ago, choices made years ago. In this very moment, I feel a pang to protect your daughters. I don’t think you are inclined to protect mine.”