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Russell Simmons Issues Statement on New Allegations of Sexual Misconduct

Entrepreneur Russell Simmons is vehemently denying the account of an incident in which a woman claims she was sexually assaulted at Simmons’ New York apartment in 1991.

In a statement, Simmons says the woman, who was 17 at the time, was an acquaintance who he hung out with over two days that year and that everything that occurred was happened with “her full consent and participation.”

Simmons, 60, is responding to a report published in the Los Angeles Times that quotes a woman named Keri Claussen Khalighi, 43, who told the paper that when she was a model in 1991, she was invited back to Simmons’ apartment with him and director Brett Ratner, who was then an up-and-coming music video director.

At the apartment, Khalighi said Simmons began making sexual advances and tried to force her to have intercourse. She told the paper she “fought it wildly,” but eventually he coerced her to perform oral sex. “I guess I just acquiesced,” Khalighi told the LA Times.

To be sure, the age of consent to sexual intercourse in New York in 1991 was, and is currently, 17 years old.

Ratner’s attorney, Martin Singer, told the LA Times his client had “no recollection” of Khalighi asking him for help and denied witnessing her “protest.”

New Ratner Accusations

The allegations against Simmons come amid a wave of accusations against his longtime friend Ratner, who he was worked with since the 1990s when he was the CEO of Def Jam and Ratner was an up-and-coming music video director.

Ratner’s sexual history has been under scrutiny since a Nov. 1 report in the LA Times that detailed allegations of sexual misconduct by six women, including actress Olivia Munn.

Russell Simmons and Brett Ratner in 2013

The new LA Times report also includes an additional allegation against Ratner by another aspiring model in 1994, who says she was assaulted by Ratner in Miami when she was 18. Singer, Ratner’s attorney, said he did not recall Reid or the alleged incident.

Ratner and Simmons were are also the subject of a recent report in from Variety about 2001 police report filed by a 29-year-old woman filed a report who claimed she was inappropriately touched and held against her will by two men – Simmons and Ratner.

In response to the Variety report, Simmons issued a statement, saying that as a public figure he is vulnerable to such “untrue” accusations. He also showed support for women and men who have recently come forward about alleged incidents of sexual harassment.

Simmons’ Personal Reformation

Simmons has been open in speeches and books about his personal transformation from the hip-hop/music industry lifestyle to one built through yoga and meditation. Writing in his 2014 book “Success Through Stillness,” talked about formerly being a man “constantly on a mission to make more money, have sex with more women, and snort more coke than the next man.”

In the book, Simmons wrote through, mediation and stillness, he has been able to find peace and change his behavior.

Khalighi also told the LA Times that she spoke to Simmons last year at the Soho House in West Hollywood where he she said he issued a “remorseful apology. Simmons’ attorney Brad D. Rose told the LA Times the conversation was “context for the embarrassment and upheaval the weekend caused her.”

In addition to his success as an entrepreneur, Simmons has been a champion for social activism, including through his support of the #MeToo sexual harassment campaign. In particular, Simmons says the revelations of these past incidents “does a disservice to those who have been true victims of sexual harassment.”

“Let me be crystal clear and very direct. Abusing women in any way shape or form violates the very core of my being,” Simmons said in a statement.

See Russell Simmons Full Statement Below