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Russell Simmons Steps Down from Companies Amid Sexual Assault Allegations

Photo Credit: Mireya Acierto/Getty Images

Another Day. Another allegation.

On Nov. 19, model Keri Claussen Khalighi accused Russell Simmons of sexual assault and harassment via an article written in the Los Angeles Times. The music business mogul adamantly denied the allegations, saying, “I have never committed any acts of aggression or violence in my life.  I would never knowingly cause fear or harm to anyone.”

Today, actress Jenny Lumet, who’s known for her role in Dodgeball (1995) and screenwriting for films like Rachel Getting Married (2008) and The Mummy (2017), has come forward with a letter written via a guest column in The Hollywood Reporter in response to Simmons’ claim to have never caused anyone harm. As a result, Simmons has decided to step down from various companies as a means of not being a "distraction" in this "time of great transition."

Lumet’s letter starts, “Dear Russell: I met you around 1987, through Rick Rubin, who has always been kind to me.  Rick knew my sister through N.Y.U. and asked me, at the upstairs bar in a nightclub called the Palladium, to be in a movie you were producing that Rick was directing, starring RUN DMC. It was, frankly, a lousy movie and I was terrible in it.”

She continued, “Once you sent me 250 balloons with the note 'Please baby, please baby, baby, baby, baby' after a character in a Spike Lee movie.  It was light, fun, and flattering.  We continued to socialize in the same places.  We continued to have a large group of mutual friends." 

After reminding Simmons about a few of their first encounters of the friendly kind, the 50-year-old actress begins to detail about the times he violated her, detailing where, when, and how.

“I got into the car with you. The driver began to drive.  I assumed you knew where I lived, because you had sent me 250 balloons, but I gave the driver my address on 19th Street and 2nd Avenue. You said to the driver: ‘No…’ Then, the car doors locked.”

As the second accusation in less than one month, Simmons responded to Lumet’s piece in The Hollywood Reporter, acknowledging that he is stepping down from his various businesses to “commit myself to continuing my personal growth, spiritual learning and above all to listening." 

Read Jenny Lumet’s detailed letter to Russell Simmons here

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