This week, hip-hop culture was rattled as one its most beloved figures - arguably the most important rap pioneer, period - was hit with a second allegation of sexual assault.
Screenwriter Jenny Lumet, daughter of directing legend Sidney Lumet, wrote an explosive guest column in the Hollywood Reporter that with a big, bold headline: "Russell Simmons Sexually Violated Me." Lumet gave a very vivid account of a night in 1991 where she claimed Simmons forced her to have sex with him. This allegation comes on the heels of model Keri Claussen Khalighi also coming public with a claim that Simmons forced himself on her sexually 26 years ago, while she was 17 years old.
The legendary mogul, who founded hip-hop's most storied label Def Jam, responded yesterday (Thursday, Nov. 30) by releasing a statement to the Hollywood Reporter announcing he was stepping down from his many companies including All Def Digital.
"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 60-year-old said. "The companies will now be run by a new and diverse generation of extraordinary executives who are moving the culture and consciousness forward."
DJ Kid Capri, who rose to international fame spinning records on Simmons' TV show Def Comedy Jam and the eventual "Def Comedy Jam" tours 25 years ago, spoke to Revolt TV yesterday afternoon and says the that the Russell Simmons he knows wouldn't do what he has been accused of.
"It's hard to defend people when you don't know the situation," Capri began to offer. "But when you know the person, it's hard to believe that type of news. I know Russell and it's mighty funny to me that all these different things are coming out at one time. Let's go back to the Bill Cosby thing. I'm not saying it didn't happen, but you wait 30 years to complain? 50 different women? Now you have a whole train of women coming out and saying something. What happened years ago?"
Capri did admit that some people in the entertainment industry do use their power to put others in compromising positions.
"The way this is going, a lot of times people in our positions and in entertainment go and take advantage of people and go a little too far.
"But when you know the character of the person, he added. "Some of these other people don't know. I know Russell, how he moves. I know what he's done for people. I know the lives he's saved, the opportunities he created. He never moved like that. Again, I wasn't there. I can't pass judgment on their actual event. But from me knowing him, it's almost impossible for me to think of that."
For Simmons part, he inferred his sexual encounter with Lumet was consensual.
"I have been informed with great anguish of Jenny Lumet's recollection about our night together in 1991," he said in his statement to the Hollywood Reporter. "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."
When Khalighi's allegations surfaced, Simmons said he could never would never abuse women "in any shape, way or form."
"Everything that happened between us 26 years ago was completely consensual and with Keri's full participation," Simmons said. "We spent time in my apartment over a period of two days and one night, as well as at some public places including Nell's Nightclub. Much of the time we were in the presence of other acquaintances. I'm deeply saddened and truly shocked to learn of Keri's assertions as to what happened over the course of that weekend."