Russell Simmons has released a statement vehemently denying allegations of sexual misconduct made against him and director Brett Ratner.
In a Los Angeles Times story published on Sunday, November 19, a woman named Keri Claussen Khalighi alleges Simmons and Ratner took her out to dinner in 1991 after meeting at a model casting call. She claims that Simmons made aggressive sexual advances and tried to force her to have intercourse, before coercing her to perform oral sex on him as Ratner “sat there and watched.” Khalighi also told The Times that she looked to Ratner for help before concluding that the two men were “in it together.” She was 17 at the time and claims that Simmons later briefly penetrated her without her consent.
The Def Jam Recordings cofounder issued a statement in response to the allegations on Sunday. “As a long-time social activist, I have applauded the strength of the brave men and women who have spoken out over the past month and made their voices heard regarding sexual assault and harassment. I am a supporter of the #MeToo campaign and the victims who were previously terrified to stand up and speak out against sexual misconduct,” Simmons said. “I completely and unequivocally deny the horrendous allegations of non-consensual sex against me with every fiber of my being.”
“I know Keri Claussen Khalighi and remember the weekend in 1991 that she has referenced. 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,” the 60-year-old continued. “I’m deeply saddened and truly shocked to learn of Keri’s assertions as to what happened over the course of that weekend.”
“Let me be crystal clear and very direct. Abusing women in any way shape or form violates the very core of my being. I have always spoken out regarding my life experiences, women’s issues and the need to bring a faster and more decisive shift in the collective consciousness that will help bring about true women’s equality,” he added. “More than anything, I want my daughters to live in a more equal world and a world where they will not become victims of sexual harassment.”
Ratner’s attorney, Martin Singer, that Ratner had “no recollection” of Khalighi asking him for help and denied witnessing her “protest.”
Simmons also referenced an allegation made by Tanya Reid, who told the Times that in 1994, when she was working at the front desk of a hotel that Simmons and Ratner were staying at, Simmons requested that she “come upstairs so Ratner could hold me down and [perform oral sex].” Reid went on to allege that after her conversation with Simmons, Ratner made an unwanted sexual advance towards her.
“The LA Times article also references an allegation by Ms. Tanya Reid. I mean no disrespect to her at all when I say I honestly do not recall my telephone conversation with a hotel front desk clerk from over a quarter-century ago,” Simmons concluded the statement. The Times reported that Ratner was an up-and-coming music video director and protegé of Simmons’ in the early ’90s.
This is not the first allegation against Ratner. The Los Angeles Times published a story on November 1 that featured interviews with six women, including actress Olivia Munn, detailing allegations of sexual harassment or misconduct against the director. Ellen Page also shared a harrowing story about Ratner on November 9, in which she revealed he outed her as a gay woman on the set of X Men: The Last Stand.
Ratner has since filed a defamation suit against one of his accusers.