Russell Simmons is the latest celebrity in Hollywood to find himself at the center of allegations of sexual assault.
Sunday (Nov. 19) the Los Angeles Times reported Keri Clausen Khalighi has come forward with accusations against Simmons and Brett Ratner, sharing details of an incident that occurred at Simmons' apartment in New York City in 1991. Simmons has since issued a statement vehemently denying Khalighi's claims.
As reported, Khalighi, who was a 17-year-old fashion model from Nebraska at the time of the incident, met the two at a casting call. One night in 1991, they took Khalighi to dinner at Mr. Chow and then went back to Simmons' residence in New York City to show her a music video they had been working on.
Once back at Simmons' apartment, per Khalighi, the Def Jam Recordings executive began making aggressive and unwanted sexual advances, such as yanking off her clothes.
"I looked over at Brett and said 'help me' and I'll never forget the look on his face," she recalled to the LA Times, later explaining that Ratner just sat and watched. "In that moment, the realization fell on me that they were in it together."
After allegedly being coerced to performing oral sex ("I guess I just acquiesced," she said), the teenager then went to take a shower because she "felt disgusting," adding that without consent, Simmons allegedly briefly penetrated her before leaving the scene.
At the time of the allegations, Ratner was 22 years old and Simmons was 34.
Ratner, who has directed, produced and financed a slew of successful films over the years and who was an up-and-coming music video director at the time of first meeting Khalighi, has joined Simmons in denying the validity of the claims, with his lawyer, Martin Singer, issuing a statement that the producer has "no recollection" of being asked for help by Khalighi and denied seeing her "protest."
In a lengthy statement posted to Facebook and Twitter, Simmons, now 60, strongly denied the claims made against him, as well as mentioned his own activism in supporting the #MeToo campaign.
"I know Keri Claussen Khalighi and remember the weekend in 1991 that she has referenced," Simmons wrote in his statement responding to the allegations. "Everything that happened between us 26 years ago was completely consensual and with Keri's full participation. We spent time in my apartment over a period of two days and one night, as well as at some public places including Neil's Nightclub. Much of the time we were in the presence of other acquaintances. I'm deeply saddened and shocked to learn of Keri's assertions as to what happened over the course of that weekend."
Additionally, actor Terry Crews has commented on the allegations, providing a screenshot of an email Simmons sent to him after he himself had personally come forward to share his story of being sexually assaulted by a male Hollywood executive, WME agent Adam Venit.
"Did he ever apologize," Simmons asked Crews. "Give the agent a pass. Ask that he be reinstated."
Simmons then signed his email, "With great love, all things are possible."
Crews posted the screenshot on Twitter, writing, "Dear @UncleRush, NO ONE GETS A PASS."
Additionally, earlier this month, Variety reported that both Simmons and Ratner had been investigated for sexual battery in 2001. Charges were never filed due to insufficient evidence. Ratner is also facing accusations from at least six women, per the New York Times, all of which he has since publicly denied.
More on this story as it develops.
See Russell Simmons' full statement responding to the allegations against him made by Keri Claussen Khalighi, as well as see Crews tweet, below.
Statement of Russell Simmons in Response to LA Times Article. pic.twitter.com/iwT7Wy3SoY— Russell Simmons (@UncleRUSH) November 19, 2017