Russell Simmons Leaves Companies Amid Sexual Assault Allegations

Music producer has had some very serious charges leveled against him by multiple women, says he will spend his days 'listening'

Music producer Russell Simmons has announced he is stepping down from his various companies in the wake of allegations of sexual assault against him.

In a guest column she wrote for The Hollywood Reporter, screenwriter Jenny Lumet recently accused Simmons of raping her in 1991.

“There is so much guilt, and so much shame,” Lumet wrote. “There is an excruciating 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.”

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Simmons said his memory of their encounter was different, but that her “feelings of fear and intimidation are real.”

There are other allegations against Simmons. Model Keri Claussen Khalighi has accused the producer of attempting to force her to have sex with him. She said Simmons worked with director Brett Ratner, also accused by multiple women of sexual assault and harassment, to lure her to Simmons’ apartment.

Another accuser, Tanya Reid, said Simmons tried to force her to perform sexual acts on Ratner.

Simmons and Ratner deny both the allegations.

Simmons is a longtime producer of music, film and television. He is also the founder of clothing lines such as Tantris and Phat Farm.

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In a recent response to allegations against him, published by The Hollywood Reporter, Simmons sounded as incoherent and delusional as other parties who have responded to sexual misconduct allegations by attempting to distract from the seriousness of the charges, including Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey.

“I have made choices that have offended some of the women in my life. It’s not cool to be a playboy and a new consciousness understands this. Now, as I hear these voices, I do as well,” wrote Simmons.

“For any women from my past who I may have offended, I sincerely apologize. I am still evolving.”

He later wrote, “My intent always came from a joyful, playful place. 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. I would never knowingly cause fear or harm to anyone. For any women from my past who I may have offended, I sincerely apologize. I am still evolving.”

In regard to leaving his companies, Simmons said in a public statement he did not want to be a “distraction” and that they will run by “a new and diverse generation of extraordinary executives who are moving the culture and consciousness forward.”

Related: Harvey Weinstein Loses Another Position in Hollywood

He said he will spend his time “continuing my personal growth, spiritual learning, and, above all … listening.”

Apparently, when you’re a multimillionaire celebrity accused of sexually assaulting multiple women, you can simply step down from your official job titles and spend some time “listening.”

You also get the opportunity to go on a long-winded half-apology in The Hollywood Reporter — where you vaguely apologize for what you did, but always make sure to deny the specific accusations and stop short of admitting anything wrong.

What a punishment.