At this point, your best bet is to hold tight, close your eyes, and pray you can make it to the end of 2017 with your idols still intact.
Ever since Harvey Weinstein went down in a burst of flames back in early October, 57 different women have come forward, bringing down at least 20 high-profile men in a variety of industries due with claims ranging from inappropriate text messages to rape.
Yesterday, Russell Simmons, mogul, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and founder of Def Jam, became the latest name added to that list.
This past Sunday, model Keri Claussen Khalighi came forward, telling the Los Angeles Times that Simmons allegedly raped her in 1991 when she was 17 years old while Brett Ratner, Hollywood director and a long-time business of partner of Simmons, watched.
In one claimed situation, Simmons is alleged to have assaulted model Keri Claussen Khalighi, then 17, while Ratner watched and did not intervene. Both men denied this occurred. pic.twitter.com/d861glSlJm
— Daniel Miller (@DanielNMiller) November 19, 2017
According to Khalighi, she met Simmons and Ratner at a casting call in New York. After agreeing to go to dinner with Simmons, he invited her to his apartment to watch a music video. But upon arrival, Simmons started ripping off the models clothes. When she wanted Ratner to help her, she realized they were “in it together.”
“I looked over at Brett and said ‘help me’ and I’ll never forget the look on his face,” she told the LA Times.
Simmons, who was double the model’s age at the time, allegedly made her perform oral sex as Ratner watched. Afterwards she said she went to take a shower because she felt “disgusting.” Then Simmons allegedly penetrated her without consent.
She was a teenager who had just left a farm town in Nebraska with the hope of breaking into the modeling industry. pic.twitter.com/ctOHIOdTF7
— Amy Kaufman (@AmyKinLA) November 19, 2017
Both Simmons and Rater deny the claims. In a statement, Simmons said he recalled a weekend with Khalighi when she 26 years ago, but says what she described as assault was “completely consensual and with Keri’s full participation.”
And Ratner has stated he has “no recollection” of Khalighi asking him for help and denied witnessing her “protest,” according to his attorney Martin Singer.
But the credibility of both Simmons and Ratner has already started to crumble.
Russell Simmons believes sex between a 30+ year old man and a 17 year old girl is consensual which is wrong. Also, Russell was in a role of power compared to Keri Claussen Khalighi therefore it wasn’t an equitable situation where consent was valid.
— Rashad (@BRashadBeal) November 19, 2017
Yesterday, in seeming impeccable timing, almost simultaneously as the story about Simmons broke, Terry Crews tweeted an email exchange between he and Russell which revealed further disturbing actions of the Def Jam founder.
Crews, who brought sexual assault charges against high-powered Hollywood agent Adam Venit after bravely telling his story of assault earlier this year, received an email from Russell Simmons asking him to drop the case.
According to the screenshot, Simmons’s email said the following:
Message Russell Simmons sent to me regarding my sexual assault case against Adam Venit of @WME:
— terrycrews (@terrycrews) November 19, 2017
It does not look good when a man accused of sexual assault is on record telling a sexual harassment victim to give a pass to a predator.
Given that Simmons met his ex-wife Kimora Lee when she was 17 years old, it’s hard to see this accusation as altogether far-fetched.
Ratner isn’t looking too innocent either.
Before the Khalighi story broke, the director had already been accused of sexual assault dating back to early November when six women came forward to the L.A Times and since that Nov. 1 report, even more women have come forward.
Russell Simmons is an endorser of meditation, positivity, and was fundamental to helping hip-hop get to where it is today, which makes these allegations especially tough to swallow. Yet, just like Louis C.K., Kevin Spacey, and others, it’s a reality we cannot shy away from.
Statement of Russell Simmons in Response to LA Times Article. pic.twitter.com/iwT7Wy3SoY
— Russell Simmons (@UncleRUSH) November 19, 2017
In moments like these we must believe and help the accusers, their stories, and sympathize with how difficult going public with their past is.
As our heroes fall one by one, one can only hope that this sparks a culture shift to bringing awareness to the prevalent sexual misconduct that happens everyday.
Russell Simmons let the hip-hop community and all the urban youth who look up to him down.