HOLLYWOOD—Russell Simmons, well-known mogul of Def Jam Records, has been accused of sexual harassment.
Simmons has been added to the increasing list of celebrities accused of sexual harassment. Keri Claussen Khalighi, a model, told the Los Angeles Times that Simmons assaulted her in 1991. She, Simmons and director Brett Ratner, who has already been accused of sexual harassment by several women including Olivia Munn, were having dinner in downtown New York. Khalighi accused Simmons of making sexual advances towards her during the dinner. She was 17 at the time of the incident.
After the dinner, Khalighi indicated that the three had returned to Simmons’ apartment to see a music video the music mogul had been working on. Once there, Simmons apparently began stripping off her clothes and “coerced her to perform oral sex.” Khalighi explained to the Los Angeles Times that “I looked over at Brett and said ‘help me’ and I’ll never forget the look on his face. In that moment, the realization fell on me that they were in it together.” She eventually relented. “I fought it wildly,” she lamented, “I guess I just acquiesced.”
Khalighi indicated that she was motivated to speak up about the incident when the news broke on Brett Ratner’s sexual misconduct. She told the LA Times that she called Simmons first and “urged him to disclose his past behaviors.” Khlaighi added that in 2016, she ran into Simmons in SoHo where he had “poured his heart out in a really touching, remorseful apology.”
Simmons, now 60, denied the accusations issuing a statement that read:
“I am supporter of the #MeToo campaign and the victims who were previously terrified to stand up and speak out against sexual misconduct. I completely and unequivocally deny the horrendous allegations of non-consensual sex against me with every fiber of my being.”
He added that he remembered the weekend in 1991 that Khalighi was referencing. “Everything that happened between us 26 years ago was completely consensual and with Keri’s full participation. We spent time in my apartment over a period of two days and one night, as well as at some public places including Nell’s Nightclub. Much of the time we were in the presence of other acquaintances. I’m deeply saddened and truly shocked to learn of Keri’s assertions as to what happened over the course of that weekend.”
Simmons stressed in the statement that he was firmly against abuse, and always spoke up in support of women’s issues. He mentioned three witnesses, two of which were anonymous and the last being his former assistant, Anthony McNair. McNair said that he did not see any visible sign of distress from Khalighi.
Khalighi has gone viral as a result of the story, and modeling pictures of her have begun circulating through the internet. Simmons’ HBO show, Def Jam Comedy, will continue regularly despite the allegations.