The deluge of sexual harassment accusations levied against powerful individuals continues. Recently, media mogul Russell Simmons announced he would be stepping down from leadership roles in his multiple business in light of accusations of sexual assault penned by screenwriter Jenny Lumet, granddaughter of the late Lena Horne and daughter of director Sidney Lumet (12 Angry Men), in a guest column published in the Hollywood Reporter, which was preceded by accusations of sexual assault and harassment levied against him by model Keri Claussen published in the Los Angeles Times.
According to Lumets account, the co-founder of Def Jam strong-armed her into a sexual act in 1991. The piece, a direct letter addressed to Simmons, recalls the moment the incident occurred in great detail.
She wrote, in part;
I saw no one else. I recall you were behind me. I was still hoping the Russell I knew would reappear, as I could not recognize the man moving me deeper into the apartment the man who had said “No” to his driver. Twice.
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.” Maybe another person would have thought differently, or not made the trade.
It was dark but not pitch-dark. You closed the door.
At that point, I simply did what I was told.
There was penetration. At one point you were only semi-erect and appeared frustrated. Angry? I remember being afraid that you would deem that my fault and become violent. I did not know if you were angry, but I was afraid that you were.
I desperately wanted to keep the situation from escalating. I wanted you to feel that I was not going to be difficult. I wanted to stay as contained as I could.
You told me to turn over on my stomach. You said something about a part of my body. You did not ejaculate inside me.
When it was over, I got my clothes and quickly went down in the elevator by myself. You didn’t try to stop me. I went home in a taxi. I was grateful to be secure in my home. I never told anyone this story until October 27 of this year (after the Harvey Weinstein story was in the news but weeks before the first public claims were made against you), when I told a girlfriend from childhood.
I have been informed with great anguish of Jenny Lumet’s recollection about our night together in 199. 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.
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