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On Thursday morning, Russell Simmons has stepped down from his businesses following a new allegation of sexual assault by Jenny Lumet.
Lumet, a successful screenwriter who is the daughter of film legend Sidney Lumet and the granddaughter of the great Lena Horne, penned a column for the Hollywood Reporter describing in detail an evening in 1991 when Simmons locked her in his car, took her to his house against her will, and forced her to have sex.
In the column, Lumet said she hadn't told anyone about the incident until around a month ago—after the news about Harvey Weinstein broke, but before Simmons was accused of a similar assault, also in 1991, by model Keri Claussen Khalighi.
As Lumet's column was published, Simmons issued a statement in response, saying he was "removing myself from the businesses that I founded." While Simmons sold his stake in Def Jam, which he co-founded, in 1998, he is currently involved in All Def Digital, an upcoming All Def Comedy series on HBO, American Classics Eyewear, Rush Books, and many more commercial and philanthropic projects.
Simmons' complete statement is below.
I have been informed with great anguish of Jenny Lumet’s recollection about our night together in 1991. 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 apologize.
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.