Def Jam Recordings founder Russell Simmons is officially stepping down from his companies after a third woman, screenwriter Jenny Lumet, came forward to accuse the music mogul of rape. Simmons had previously been accused of raping models Keri Claussen Khalighi and Tanya Reid with help from disgraced director Brett Ratner, who was recently removed from production of the upcoming Wonder Woman sequel in the wake of reports of sexual misconduct from at least nine women — including actresses Natasha Henstridge and Olivia Munn. Simmons had denied raping the two women, saying in a statement that “abusing women in any way shape or form violates the very core of my being.”
In response to Simmons’ statement, Lumet wrote him an open letter, published by The Hollywood Reporter, in which she reminded him of what he allegedly did to her one night in 1991, when she was approximately 24 years of age. Lumet explained that she had known Simmons since 1987, when she performed in a movie that he was producing starring RUN DMC, and that while he had “pursued her, lightly, on and off, over a course of years,” she had previously thought of him as someone she could trust.
“You offered me a ride to my home. I said, ‘Sure,’” Lumet recalled. “During the making of the RUN DMC movie, I had been in vans with you and other crew members. I don’t recall having accepted a ride home alone with you before that night … I gave the driver my address on 19th Street and 2nd Avenue. You said to the driver: ‘No.’”
Lumet said that she was confused at first, and repeated her address again to the driver. But Simmons, she wrote, simply said, “No,” once more, and then locked the doors of the car before having the driver take her to his apartment.
“I felt dread and disorientation,” she wrote. “I wanted to go home. I said I wanted to go home. I didn’t recognize the man next to me. I didn’t know if the situation would turn violent. I remember thinking that I must be crazy. I remember hoping that the Russell I knew would return any moment.”
But instead, Lumet said, Simmons brought her to his apartment and forced her into his bedroom, where she decided to do as he said in order to prevent her suddenly aggressive mentor from becoming violent. Lumet wrote that Simmons forced intercourse with her and that she fled the apartment afterwards.
In response to Lumet’s letter, Simmons issued an apology saying that 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.” He added that he would step down from his businesses in order to avoid becoming a “distraction,” and instead “commit myself to continuing my personal growth, spiritual learning and above all to listening.”