‘Abuse of power’

Woman says NBC silenced her story after she alleged rape by Russell Simmons

Rap mogul Russell Simmons (REUTERS/Andrew Kelly)

Author and domestic-violence activist Sil Lai Abrams has come forward to share her allegations of rape and sexuals abuse against music mogul Russell Simmons and Extra host A.J. Calloway — as well as the way that NBC News allegedly killed her story when she initially tried to speak out.

Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Abrams said she was 19 years old and working as a hostess in a club in New York when she met Simmons, and started an intermittent sexual relationship with him. But the two hadn’t been together in years, she said, when Simmons allegedly raped her after a night of partying in 1994. According to Abrams, she was drunk and had asked Simmons’ driver to take her home. Instead of going there, Abrams said, she was taken to Simmons’ penthouse where she passed out fully clothed on his bed. As she drifted in and out of consciousness, she recalled seeing Simmons approach her naked except for a condom. As she realized his intentions, she said, she told him no repeatedly. She said Simmons proceeded to remove her underwear and rape her.

The next day at her home, she said, she swallowed a bottle of pills and called Simmons on the phone so that he would know that his decision to rape her had pushed her to the brink of taking her own life. She said her life was saved after the woman she was staying with, Carol Ingram, sent her then-husband, Emmanuel, to check on Abrams. He found she’d apparently taken something and Abrams was rushed to the hospital where her life was saved. Both Ingram and Emmanuel confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that Abrams had told them Simmons had raped her.

Abrams said she felt inspired to come forward with her account of Simmons’ alleged assault — as well as a separate incident from 2006 in which she said Calloway, whose show Extra airs on NBC owned-and-operated stations, sexually assaulted her and forced her to touch his penis while he masturbated — after hearing the accounts of other women coming forward as part of the #MeToo movement. But despite coming forward in November — before many other women came forward to accuse Simmons of sexual assault — the publication of her story was repeatedly delayed and then eventually dropped by MSNBC.

“When MSNBC pursues any investigative story our mission is always to be as thorough as we can, to scrutinize sources and corroborate information before we report,” an NBC spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter. “Anything else falls short of our journalistic standards.”

Simmons and Calloway have both categorically denied Abrams’ accusations against them.

Read the full story at The Hollywood Reporter.

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