A day after the media world reeled over the firing of longtime Today Show host Matt Lauer, hip hop icon Russell Simmons announced Thursday that he was stepping down from his companies after another scathing accusation of sex assault.
Jenny Lumet, the daughter of director Sidney Lumet, and Lena Horne‘s granddaughter, wrote a guest column in the Hollywood Reporter that accused the Def Jam co-founder of forcing her to have sex in 1991.
“There is so much guilt, and so much shame,” Lumet wrote.”There is an excruciating internal reckoning. As a woman of color, I cannot express how wrenching it is to write this about a successful man of color. Again, shame about who I was years ago, choices made years ago. In this very moment, I feel a pang to protect your daughters. I don’t think you are inclined to protect mine.”
Hours after the story was published, Simmons released a statement of apology, saying he had a different recollection of their encounter, but said that her “feelings of fear and intimidation are real.”
It was not the first accusation against Simmons, who has fostered an image of philanthropist, yoga practitioner and mentor to scores of hip hop artists.
In a November Los Angeles Times article, model Keri Claussen Khalighi accused Simmons of assault and harassment. He vociferously denied the claim in a letter published by The Hollywood Reporter.
Lumet, an award-winning screenwriter (Rachel Getting Married, The Mummy) said it was Simmons’ response to Khalighi that prompted her to reveal her own alleged experience.
Besides music, Simmons is TV producer and co-founder of Def Jam Recordings.
“The voices of the voiceless, those who have been hurt or shamed, deserve and need to be heard,” Simmons said in the statement. “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.”
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