In early November, model Keri Claussen Khalighi accused Russell Simmons of sexually assaulting her when she was 17 years old. The Los Angeles Times produced a bombshell report of the accusations, which also highlighted Simmons' long and well-documented history of coercing very young models along with his frequent partner in crime, Hollywood director Brett Ratner. Now, a new accuser has come forward, and the details are so severe, Simmons has finally been forced to step down from his businesses.
Jenny Lumet is an award-winning screenwriter with impeccable credentials.
Not only is she the writer of Rachel Getting Married and The Mummy, she is also the daughter of legendary filmmaker Sidney Lumet, who directed 12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon, and Network.
Oh, and she's also the granddaughter of legendary actress, singer and activist Lena Horne.
In addition to this, she is connected to the Vanderbilts (yes, those Vanderbilts) because one of her father’s ex-wives is Gloria Vanderbilt. The point is, Lumet is well-connected and supremely accomplished, so she doesn’t need money or five minutes of fame, or any other of the myriad things people usually accuse sex assault survivors of needing when they speak out.
In fact, Lumet addresses this very pointedly in a heartbreaking firsthand account, which she published in the The Hollywood Reporter.
I have built a life in the past 25 years and a reputation in my industry. I need no one to have this visualization of me. I will, like the others, lose work because of this. I realize how privileged I am to be able to risk that. I have children. I’m aware that every mistake, act of thoughtlessness, hypocrisy or cruelty I’ve committed in my 50 years will be excavated, and they’ll see all of it.
As Lumet acknowledges, people will dig into her story, which she has only told once before – to a close girlfriend just after the Harvey Weinstein accusations emerged.
She came forward now because Simmons denied assaulting Khalighi, a fact she knew, from experience, to likely be untrue.
Simmons had earlier issued a statement which said,
I have never committed any acts of aggression or violence in my life. I would never knowingly cause fear or harm to anyone… abusing women in any way shape or form violates the very core of my being.
But that was a lie, as Lumet states when she describes Simmons raping her at 24.
In her bombshell of a letter, Lumet writes that she had known Simmons for years before the assault. She’d met him in 1987 when she acted in a film he was producing which starred Run DMC. They had a large circle of mutual acquaintances, and Simmons always seemed safe. As Lumet says:
“…You were a fan of my grandmother, respected her, and told me so. You seemed sincere.”