Russell Simmons is stepping down from his companies after writer Jenny Lumet, daughter of Sidney Lumet, wrote a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter accusing the hip-hop mogul of "sexually violating" her.
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, Simmons told the driver, "No," and locked the doors. She repeated her address and Simmons again said, "No." Then she said Simmons took her to his apartment.
"I felt dread and disorientation. 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," Lumet wrote.
"You didn't punch me, drag me or verbally threaten me. You used your size to maneuver me, quickly, into the elevator. I said 'Wait. Wait.' I felt dread. ... You moved me into a bedroom. I said 'Wait.' You said nothing. I made the trade in my mind. I thought 'just keep him calm and you'll get home.'"
"At that point," Lumet writes, "I simply did what I was told. There was penetration." Afterwards, she said she quickly dressed and went home.
Lumet said she never told anyone what happened until late last month, when thestory was in the news and she confided in a childhood friend.
On Thursday, Simmons released a statement saying he remembers things differently.
"I have been informed with great anguish of Jenny Lumet's recollection about our night together in 1991," he said. "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."
Lumet said she decided to come forward after Simmons vehemently denied assaulting other women who accused him of misconduct in recent days.
"I can't leave those women twisting in the wind," she said. "Maybe the recalling of this incident can be helpful. I don't know if it can."
Simmons said in response, "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." He said he will commit himself to personal growth, spiritual learning and listening.
Last week,by Keri Claussen Khalighi, who said he coerced her to perform a sex act and later penetrated her without her consent in his New York apartment in 1991 when she was just 17. Simmons said he was "saddened" by the accusation and insisted that everything that occurred between himself and Khalighi was completely consensual and with her "full participation."