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Russell Simmons issues statements on sexual assault allegation

By | Published on Friday 24 November 2017

Russell Simmons

Music industry veteran Russell Simmons has now issued two statements responding to an allegation of sexual assault by model Keri Claussen Khalighi.

Khalighi told the LA Times last week that she met Simmons in 1991 at a casting call for a music video when she was seventeen. She says that he and video director Brett Ratner – himself now accused of various instances of sexual assault and harassment – took her to dinner shortly afterwards, and then back to Simmons’ apartment.

Once there, she says, Simmons began making aggressive sexual advances. “I looked over at Brett and said ‘help me’ and I’ll never forget the look on his face”, she said. “In that moment, the realisation fell on me that they were in it together”.

She alleges that the former Def Jam boss eventually coerced her into performing oral sex on him while Ratner watched. Afterwards, she said, she went to have a shower, where Simmons followed her and briefly penetrated her without consent.

In a statement on Facebook, Simmons denied Khalighi’s accusations, saying that they had spent a whole weekend together and “everything that occurred between Keri and me occurred with her full consent and participation”. Ratner, meanwhile, said that he had “no recollection” of Khalighi asking for help or protesting Simmons’ advances.

Subsequently appearing on US TV show ‘Today’, Khalighi said that Simmons had previously acknowledged and apologised for what had happened between them, saying: “Russell and I have actually had a face-to-face confrontation around this, we’ve had phone conversations, where we have had a conversation about what happened, where there was no dispute of what we were talking about. We were both talking about what happened on that night and he actually apologised”.

She added: “Part of what is so confusing and re-traumatising is what he is speaking about privately with me is completely different than what has come out publicly. And that is the piece that’s been really, really upsetting, disappointing and quite honestly, just repugnant with hypocrisy and the lies and the denial”.

Now, in a new statement published by The Hollywood Reporter, Simmons has again addressed Khalighi’s accusations. In it, he says that a “longtime loathing of any form of violence and abuse has been woven into all of my personal interactions”. He goes on to confirm that the two have spoken privately about what happened, but that she “insisted I was not violent” and that she was simply embarrassed that her boyfriend had found out that she and the music mogul had spent a weekend together.

He does concede that he has “made choices that have offended some of the women in my life”, but also says that “three witnesses have signed statements that our experiences that weekend with Keri Claussen Khalighi 26 years ago were consensual”.

Concluding his new statement, he says: “As the dialogue progresses, let’s not lose sight of what’s truly happening, a shift in power and all that entails. I want that shift. It must lead to a space where women and also men can heal, even if it means attacking me. I remain an activist for women’s rights and all things unjust. This is my life’s work and journey, and God knows my heart. To all the #MeToo campaigns and women around the world, I support your healing and will continue to be an honest and imperfect advocate for the voiceless (including animals) and humanity as a whole”.