Russell Simmons has been accused of raping three women, according to a report by the New York Times. On the heels of the report, an article by the Los Angeles Times has revealed five more women who are accusing Simmons of sexual misconduct.
The new accusations come a month after Keri Claussen Khalighi claimed she was sexually assaulted by Simmons in 1991 and screenwriter Jenny Lumet revealed she was another alleged victim of the Def Jam co-founder.
Among the new accusers in the New York Times’ report are two music executives and one singer who worked with Simmons during their respective careers. All three paint a picture of feeling powerless due to his influence in the music industry.
Drew Dixon, who worked at Def Jam, says she was a constant target of Simmons’ harassment at work. He allegedly told her how she aroused him, asked her to sit on his lap and exposed his penis to her on a regular basis. She gave her key to a co-worker with instructions to barge in if Simmons closed her door.
“I was like: ‘If I ever buzz you, don’t pick up, don’t call me back — just open my door,” Dixon said. “That means Russell is in here and he whipped his [penis out].”
Simmons’ lawyer Brad D. Rose said his client admitted to engaging in “inappropriate conduct” with Dixon while she was at Def Jam. Dixon said she put up with it because she didn’t want to lose her chance at a career in the industry.
“I didn’t want to cut off my one conduit to having any hope of a career,” she told the New York Times. “I thought if I could survive long enough to have a hit — a real bona fide hit with my name on it — I would move categories.”
After Dixon began finding success in her career, Simmons allegedly raped her at his downtown apartment in 1995.
“The last thing I remember was him pinning me down to kiss me on the bed,” she said, noting that the last memory of the night was being naked next to Simmons in a bathtub.
Dixon told the New York Times she suffered from depression and eventually left the company due to Simmons’ actions. Simmons’ lawyer responded to the allegations by noting that his client “emphatically states that he did not have sex with her.”
After leaving for a job at Arista Records — where she allegedly faced more sexual harassment from L.A. Reid — Dixon threatened to sue Simmons for sexual harassment and money she was still owed from the label. She settled out of court in 1997.
“I was like, ‘I do not want to be famous for being sexually harassed by Russell Simmons,’” Dixon said. “I want to make records and be famous for that.”
Tina Baker, a singer who performed under the stage name Tina B and who was managed by Simmons, also emerged to accuse him of raping her. In the early ’90s, Simmons invited her to his apartment to talk about her career. The scene got “ugly pretty fast” according to her as he tried to kiss her, which led to a scuffle.
“[I remember] him on top of me, pushing me down and him saying, ‘Don’t fight me,’” Baker said. “I did nothing, I shut my eyes and waited for it to end.”
Since Simmons was still her manager, she later returned to his apartment for another meeting. There, he exposed his penis and made a move toward Baker, which prompted her to flee the scene. She eventually got out of her contract with Simmons but her career languished in the aftermath.
“I didn’t sing for almost a year,” Baker said. “I went into oblivion.”
Simmons said he “did everything he could to professionally promote her career.” His lawyer said his client had “no recollection of ever having any sexual relations with Ms. Baker.”
Toni Sallie met Simmons in 1987 while working as a music journalist for Black Radio Exclusive. The two went on a few dates in 1988 but didn’t pursue a romantic relationship. The two retained an amicable relationship afterward, which led to Simmons inviting Sallie to his Manhattan apartment under the pretense of a party for his girlfriend in fall 1988. When Sallie arrived, no one was there and Simmons escorted her to his bedroom.
“He pushed me on the bed and jumped on top of me, and physically attacked me,” she said. “We were fighting. I said no.”
Sallie was too fearful of career consequences to report the incident to the police.
“If I went to the police, I didn’t know how that would turn out,” she said. “You have to understand, I was very much in a man’s game. Black women were just starting to break into the field.”
Simmons’ lawyer acknowledged his client and Sallie went on dates but said there was no non-consensual sex.
While working for Warner Bros. Records, Sallie encountered Simmons about a year later when she attended a conference in South Florida. She claims he tried to lead her to a dark beach and when she resisted, he attacked her. Simmons allegedly grabbed her by the hair and chased her into a bathroom before she escaped to her room.
Simmons’ lawyer denied this, saying, “At no time did Mr. Simmons conduct himself inappropriately.”
After the allegations about Simmons sexually assaulting Khalighi surfaced in November, Sallie finally reached out to the Manhattan district attorney’s office to officially accuse him. Law enforcement officials have said the statute of limitations has passed but Sallie and another anonymous accuser were referred to the New York Police Department’s Special Victims Unit to have a record of the allegations against Simmons.
In response to the Times’ report, Simmons issued a lengthy statement denying all of the allegations.
Read it below.
Russell Simmons Statement
“I vehemently deny all these allegations. These horrific accusations have shocked me to my core and all of my relations have been consensual.
“I am blessed to have shared extraordinary relationships, whether through work or love, with many great women; and I have enormous respect for the women’s movement worldwide and their struggle for respect, dignity, equality and power. I am devastated by any reason I may have given to anyone to say or think of me in the ways that are currently being described. In recent weeks, some former business, creative and romantic partners have aired grievances as claims I categorically reject. In some of these instances, financial motives and direct contradictory witness testimony has been supplied to the media, which has been completely left out of stories. In the last few days, one woman attempted to extort me for $500,000 only to recant her ridiculous claim. The current allegations sent to me by The New York Times range from the patently untrue to the frivolous and hurtful. The presumption of innocent until proven guilty must not be replaced by “Guilty by Accusation.”
“I have already apologized for the instances of thoughtlessness in my consensual relations. I have separated myself from my businesses and charities in order to not become a distraction. I have re-dedicated myself to spiritual learning, healing and working on behalf of the communities to which I have devoted my life. I have accepted that I can and should get dirt on my sleeves if it means witnessing the birth of a new consciousness about women. What I will not accept is responsibility for what I have not done. I have conducted my life with a message of peace and love. Although I have been candid about how I have lived in books and interviews detailing my flaws, I will relentlessly fight against any untruthful character assassination that paints me as a man of violence.”