Mogul Russell Simmons has removed himself from his businesses in light of a sexual assault allegation.
Business mogul Russell Simmons is removing himself from his companies in wake of an allegation of sexual assault and harassment.
Simmons, the founder of Hip Hop label Def Jam Recordings and the CEO of Rush Communications, released a statement Thursday following screenwriter Jenny Lumet accusing him of forcing her into sex with him in 1991. Thursday, Lumet detailed the episode in a guest column published by The Hollywood Reporter.
Simmons stated, “I have been informed with great anguish of Jenny Lumet’s recollection about our night together in 1991,” Simmons said in a statement. “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.”
As the statement continues: “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.”
In Lumet’s column she alleges that, “maybe recalling of this incident can be helpful” to others who have spoken out against Simmons, but also acknowledges there’s a lot at stake by coming forward with claims.
“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.”
Also, HBO has announced that Simmons’ upcoming stand-up comedy series, “All Def Comedy,”. The series was scheduled to premiere December 1.
“HBO will be airing All Def Comedy as planned,” an HBO spokesperson said. “However, Russell Simmons will not appear in the new series and we will be removing his name from the show moving forward. The series is a platform for promising and upcoming comedians and we do not want to deprive them of an opportunity to showcase their talents to a national audience. We have no other projects with Russell Simmons.”
The latest accusation made by Lumet comes after a Los Angeles Times report published November 19 chronicled accusations of sexual misconduct against director Simmons and Brett Ratner. A woman quoted in the story claimed Simmons and Ratner were “in it together.”
Both Simmons and Ratner have denied the accusations, with Simmons stating that, “abusing women in any way shape or form violates the very core of my being.”
The 60-year-old Simmons made his way in the music industry in the early 1980s, managing younger brother, Joseph “Rev Run” Simmons and his group, Run-D.M.C. The group is widely considered legendary pioneers in Hip Hop. Simmons co-founded Def Jam with partner Rick Rubin in 1984. Some of the biggest names in hHip Hop have come through Def Jam Jay-Z, Public Enemy, LL Cool J and currently Iggy Azalea and Justin Bieber to name a few.