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.
Exciting news! Jenny Lumet--writer of the #Oscar and #GoldenGlobe nominated film RACHAEL GETTING MARRIED--is joinin… https://t.co/fdS1JS4kYq— Napa Valley Film Festival (@Napa Valley Film Festival)1500406204.0
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.
Russell Simmons steps down from companies following sexual assault accusation from screenwriter Jenny Lumet… https://t.co/bmsC3aO71H— Shadow and Act (@Shadow and Act)1512056538.0
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.
Russell Simmons allegedly sexually assaulted award-winning screenwriter Jenny Lumet https://t.co/Yly17YmYT2 https://t.co/vNoaU38NF6— The Root (@The Root)1512056367.0
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."
Simmons pursued Lumet on and off through the years, but the pursuit, in her words, was "lighthearted."
"You pursued me for years, off and on, saying you had a thing for 'little yellow girls.'" BAAARRRRFFFFFFF https://t.co/HgeUvurK2b— Small Crimes (@Small Crimes)1512067848.0
That is until one night in 1991 when the two met by chance at a restaurant called Indochine.
Powerful letter from writer #JennyLumet to music mogul #RussellSimmons recounting night he sexually assaulted her.… https://t.co/0U2Sru1fpI— Areva Martin, Esq. (@Areva Martin, Esq.)1512056443.0
Lumet says she felt the shift the moment she gave the driver directions to where she lived."I gave the driver my address on 19th Street and 2nd Avenue'" Lumet said, but that was when things took a turn. As she describes:
You said to the driver: "No."
I didn't understand, so I said: "Russell?"
I said, again, to the driver: "19th Street."
Again you said to the driver: "No."
Then the car doors locked. It was loud. The noise made me jump.
From there, things only got worse. "I didn't recognize you at that moment," Lumet says, "It was disorienting. It was disorienting. I say it twice now because you said "No" twice then."This is a statement Lumet repeats throughout the piece. She couldn't reconcile this new, predatory Simmons with the man who admired her grandmother and sent her red balloons as a joke. She explains that the whole time, she tried to stay calm so that Simmons wouldn't become violent. She tried to glance at the driver for help, but he obeyed Simmons' directives, and she became frightened he would join in what had become a horrific ordeal.
Lumet describes how she felt at the moment they exited the car for Simmons' apartment.
"You took without asking," No by @NatashaKlebAlex https://t.co/28sH0yzv2P #NoMeansNo #sexualassault #MeToo… https://t.co/sCNfQQFfk7— Feminine Collective: Humanity, Raw & Unfiltered (@Feminine Collective: Humanity, Raw & Unfiltered)1511154312.0
I felt dread. I was tremulous. Off my feet. I felt an intense need to keep both of you calm. Was there a time or a space to run? I have no idea. Would somebody else have run? I have no idea. There were two men. One of whom obeyed the other. It was an overwhelming feeling... I said, "Wait. Wait." I felt dread. I was very, very sad. I didn't know if the driver was a further threat, or an ally.Thankfully, the driver didn't follow them up. Nevertheless, what followed was horrific.
Simmons moved Lumet to the bedroom. She said "wait" again, but Simmons persisted.
NO es NO | NO means NO | Não é Não #LaManadaSomosNosotras #YoSiTeCreo https://t.co/KOlHyvZWvs— Sandra Quiroz (@Sandra Quiroz)1511065558.0
Simmons moved Lumet to the bedroom, where he proceeded to rape her.
If you haven’t been given explicit permission, then it’s not the right time. No, means no. #spreadrespect via… https://t.co/8C9Qb6j631— The RAP Project (@The RAP Project)1511870251.0
I made the trade in my mind. I thought, 'Just keep him calm, and you'll get home.' Maybe another person would have thought differently, or not made the trade... 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.
Finally, Simmons finished and he let her go. She took a taxi home and never told anyone about the incident until this year.
Every man or woman having trouble understanding the ripples of this abhorrent behavior should read Ms Lumet’s words. https://t.co/ESzXNkWDB6— Ron Perlman (@Ron Perlman)1512056007.0
The dynamic between us was different, muted. I never sought you out, nor did I run from a place or event upon seeing you. I feel confident in saying we nodded at each other, said hello. I strove for an affect of normalcy. And I never said anything to you about that night. You have never said anything to me.
In the end, Lumet explained why she came forward."I don't recall ever meeting any of the women who have spoken out against you, Russell," Lumet said. "But I can't leave those women twisting in the wind. Maybe the recalling of this incident can be helpful. I don't know if it can."
In response to Lumen's statement, Simmons stepped down from all of his companies.
Russell Simmons has removed himself from the businesses he founded after Jenny Lumet came forward with sexual misco… https://t.co/BLuCHg6H1K— E! News (@E! News)1512062528.0
In his statement, Simmons said he is stepping down to "commit myself to continuing my personal growth, spiritual learning and above all to listening." His full statement is below.
The experience of writing a story like this includes reliving all the old terror and shame as well as new fears for… https://t.co/7ot2LTC7aq— Krista Vernoff (@Krista Vernoff)1512058461.0
I have been informed with great anguish of Jenny Lumet's recollection about our night together in 1991. 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.
This is a time of great transition. The voices of the voiceless, those who have been hurt or shamed, deserve and need to be heard. 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. I will convert the studio for yogic science into a not-for-profit center of learning and healing. As for me, I will step aside and commit myself to continuing my personal growth, spiritual learning and above all to listening.