Russell Simmons Says Encounter With 17-Year-Old Model Was ‘Completely Consensual’

“Abusing women in any way shape or form violates the very core of my being,” Simmons says in response to a LA Times article

Russell Simmons responded on Sunday to a Los Angeles Times article in which model Keri Claussen Khalighi said the Def Jam producer sexually assaulted her when she was 17 while movie producer Brett Ratner watched. Simmons confirmed that he and Khalighi encountered each other in 1991, but said that everything that happened was “completely consensual.”

“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,” Simmons said in a statement. “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.”

In the LA Times report, Khalighi said that Simmons invited her to dinner with Ratner, who at the time was a music video director and Simmons’ protege. She says Simmons took her back to his apartment to show her a music video they were working on, but when they arrived, he made aggressive advances towards her. She struggled as Simmons undressed her, but eventually acquiesced and gave him oral sex.

“I looked over at Brett and said ‘help me’ and I’ll never forget the look on his face,” she recalled. “In that moment, the realization fell on me that they were in it together.”

The article also outlines Ratner and Simmons’ long relationship and notes that their conduct together has been investigated by authorities, namely in 2001, when police investigated claims from a woman who said she was sexually abused and held against her will at Ratner’s Beverly Hills home. Ratner, who was accused of sexual harassment in an earlier LA Times piece, has stepped down from day-to-day operations as head of his production banner, Ratpac Entertainment, with Warner Bros. severing ties with him.

Simmons says that he has been a longtime supporter of women’s rights, saying that “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 said.  “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.”

Read Simmons’ full statement below:

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. 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. 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. 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.

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.