Russell Simmons is the latest Hollywood power player to be accused of sexual assault—allegedly with Brett Ratner.
In a Los Angeles Times piece published on Sunday, Ratner, who recently faced other harassment allegations, is accused of working together with Simmons, co-founder of Def Jam Recordings, to carry out sexual Fmisconduct against women. The news comes amid a rise in similar accusations against celebs and non-famous people, inspired by many launched against Harvey Weinstein, who has denied taking part in non-consensual sex.
In the article, the L.A. Times reports that model Keri Claussen Khalighi accused Simmons of coercing her into performing oral sex on him in 1991. Khaligi also claims that Simmons' former protege, Brett Ratner, watched.
"I completely and unequivocally deny the horrendous allegations of non-consensual sex against me with every fiber of my being," Simmons said in a statement to E! News on Sunday, adding that he is a "supporter of the #MeToo campaign and the victims who were previously terrified to stand up and speak out against sexual misconduct."
Khalighi, 43, told The Los Angeles Times, which first reported about past allegations against Ratner, that when she was a 17-year-old model, she met Ratner and Simmons at a casting call, went to dinner with them and returned with them to Simmons' apartment to watch a music video they'd been working on. She said Simmons made aggressive sexual advances and yanked off her clothes, after which she "looked over at Brett and said 'help me.'
"And I'll never forget the look on his face," she told the newspaper. "In that moment, the realization fell on me that they were in it together."
Khalighi said that Simmons tried to force her to have sexual intercourse and that she "fought it wildly" until he relented and coerced her to perform oral sex. She said Ratner "just sat there and watched."
She said she then went to take a shower and that Simmons then walked up behind her and had sex with her without her content.
"Everything that happened between us 26 years ago was completely consensual and with Keri's full participation," Simmons said in his statement. "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."
Simmons also tweeted out a statement refuting the claims on Sunday.
Ratner's attorney told the Los Angeles Times that the producer had "no recollection" of Khalighi asking him for help and denied witnessing her "protest."
Ratner had previously denied past allegations of sexual misconduct.
Another woman, Tanya Reid, told the Los Angeles Times that in 1994, she was an aspiring young model and worked at the front desk of a Florida hotel. Ratner was there to shoot a music video and Simmons was staying in a room. She said both men called the front desk to speak to her and that Simmons asked her to personally bring him a toothbrush, which she refused to do.
"I remember this very, very clearly, the exact words he said on the phone. He wanted me to come upstairs so Brett could hold me down and he could [perform oral sex]," Reid told The Los Angeles Times.
Simmons said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times, "I mean no disrespect to her when I say I do not recall a conversation with a hotel front desk clerk over a quarter of a century ago."
She said that she later gave Ratner her phone number and that he stopped by her apartment once day, sat down, exposed himself and put her hand on his crotch and asked for oral sex. She was reluctant but said she eventually gave in and he left immediately after. She said she never heard from him again.
Ratner, through his attorney, told the Los Angeles Times he did not recall Reid or the alleged incident.
According to the L.A. Times, Simmons' attorney has provided two additional anonymous statements from people who said Khalighi showed no signs of distress during the weekend.
Khalighi said she saw Simmons last year at a restaurant and that he "poured his heart out in a really touching, remorseful apology" for his behavior and offered his telephone number, saying she should call him if she wanted to talk further.
Simmons' attorney told the newspaper that the apology was in the "context for the embarrassment and upheaval the weekend caused her" related to her "infidelity." Khalighi disputed the account.
After the Los Angeles Times story was published, Brooklyn Nine-Nine star Terry Crews tweeted an email he said Simmons sent him earlier this month after he accused Hollywood talent agent Adam Venit of sexual assault.
"Did he ever apologize," Simmons allegedly wrote. "Give the agent a pass...ask that he be reinstated...With great love, all things are possible."
Simmons, who was tagged in the tweet, has not commented.
@UncleRUSH—— NO ONE GETS A PASS," Crews wrote.