Entrepreneur and humanitarian Russell Simmons responded to a report that he was once investigated for sexual battery in a case involving director Brett Ratner, who recently has been accused of sexually assault by six in separate incidents.
According to a recent report from Variety, police records show a 29-year-old woman filed a report in November 2001, claiming she was inappropriately touched and held against her will by two men. The incident, she claimed, occurred on the same block in Beverly Hills as Ratner’s home at the time.
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.
“This is an important and critical time for the empowerment of women and men who have been harassed,” according to the statement Simmons provided to Variety. “I have been a public figure for all of my adult life. And when you are in that arena over decades, you can find yourself in a position where you are vulnerable and susceptible to claims that are untrue.”
Despite the charges and the subsequent investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department, prosecutors in 2002 decided against pressing charges due to insufficient evidence, according to Variety.
Ratner’s criminal attorney, Harland Braun, told Variety that the alleged victim had made accusations against other celebrities, which undermined her credibility. “We know her. She came to our house. Nothing happened. She’s making up a story,” Braun told Variety.
The investigation and charges have only come to light in the wake of the new accusations against Ratner, who Simmons has known for more than 20 years.
Known as the “Rat,” Ratner in the 1990s specialized in producing low-budget, yet high-quality hip-hop videos, particularly for Simmons’ Def Jam record label. Among the videos Ratner gained notoriety for included Heavy D’s “Nuttin’ But Love” video, the Def Jam-produced movie “How to Be a Player,” and videos for LL Cool J, Redman and other Def Jam artists.
Over time, a friendship forged between Simmons and Ratner, with Simmons calling him his “Jewish son” and someone who he loves like a brother.
Meanwhile, Ratner’s legal and professional troubles continue to mount, with Warner Bros., who has a co-financing deal with Ratner, forcing him out of his office on the studio’s lot in Burbank, C.A. after the Los Angeles Times report about the sexual misconduct allegations against him was published.