Russell Simmons Steps Down After Sexual Assault Allegation
Media mogul and philanthropist, Russell Simmons, joins an increasing number of men who have been accused of sexual assault lately and have had ties to their jobs and/or businesses cut off. Simmons, who recently turned 60, decided to step down from all of his businesses effective today due to these allegations.
Simmons is of course the co-founder of Def Jam Recordings, leading many to call him the Godfather of hip-hop or “Uncle Rush.” But it’s not just music that helped make Simmons a household name. He went on to create several successful clothing lines, including Phat Farm and Argyleculture. Not to mention Def Comedy Jam, Def Poetry Jam and his financial company Rush Card.
Under his company Rush Communications Inc., Simmons has also been heavily involved in philanthropy. In 1995, he and his brothers, Rev. Run and Danny Simmons, co-founded the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation, which helps expose inner city youth to the arts. Simmons was named a Goodwill Ambassador to the UN in 2009 and has also been a strong supporter of gay rights and animal rights. Plus, in 2016, he opened a yoga studio in Los Angeles called Tantris.
Russell’s accuser, Jenny Lumet, who was once a friend, is a screenwriter. She is the daughter of director Sidney Lumet, and her grandmother is Lena Horne.
“I have been informed with great anguish of Jenny Lumet’s recollection about our night together in 1991,” Simmons said in a statement. “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 and humbly apologize.”
The statement continued: “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.”
Lumet said that in 1991, when she was 24, Simmons, who was a friend, offered to give her a ride home from a restaurant one night. She wrote that when she got in the car and told the driver her address, everything changed. Here’s Jenny’s original recount of that night:
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.”
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.
I didn’t recognize you at that moment. It was disorienting. It was disorienting. I say it twice now because you said “No” twice then.
I couldn’t open the doors. I couldn’t open the windows. The car was moving. The driver did not stop. He did not take me to 19th Street. He took me to your apartment.
I didn’t try to kick the windows out. I didn’t punch or kick. I didn’t say, “What are you doing?” My voice left me after the second “No.”
I desperately wanted to keep the situation from escalating. I wanted you to feel that I was not going to be…