Russell Simmons stepping down from companies after sexual assault allegation

Entrepreneur Russell Simmons announced Thursday that he is stepping down from his companies after being accused of sexual assault by writer Jenny Lumet.

Lumet, a Hollywood screenwriter and the daughter of filmmaker Sidney Lumet, wrote a guest column in The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday, where she described an encounter she had with Simmons in 1991, when she was around 24 years old. In the piece, she claimed that Simmons took her to his New York apartment where he forced her to have sex.

“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,” Simmons said in a statement.

Simmons, who co-founded Def Jam Records with Rick Rubin in 1984, said he will remove himself from the businesses that he founded so he will not be a “distraction.”

“The companies will now be run by a new and diverse generation of extraordinary executive who are moving the culture and consciousness forward,” he said in a statement. “I will step aside and commit myself to continuing my personal growth, spiritual learning and above all to listening.”

Earlier this month in a report in the Los Angeles Times, model Keri Claussen Khalighi accused Simmons of sexual misconduct when she was 17 years old. The report includes allegations that filmmaker Brett Ratner was also involved in the incident.

Simmons, in a statement, denied the allegations, saying everything that happened that night was consensual.

“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 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,” he said.