Update, Jan. 24, 2020: This post has been updated with new allegations from accusers who have come forward since Dec. 2017.
Original post, Dec. 13, 2017: Ten women came forward Wednesday to accuse music mogul Russell Simmons of sexual misconduct ranging from inappropriate behavior in business meetings to rape, in incidents that span from 1983 to 2016, according to reports in the New York Times and Los Angeles Times. Simmons, who was an important figure in rap music and, with Rick Rubin, a co-founder of Def Jam Recordings, has denied all of the allegations. This brings the total number of Simmons’ named, on-the-record accusers to twelve: model Keri Claussen Khalighi had previously accused Simmons of coercing her into performing oral sex on him while director Brett Ratner watched—Simmons denied this allegation in a guest column for the Hollywood Reporter, while Ratner said he did not remember Khalighi asking him for help fending off Simmons—and screenwriter Jenny Lumet, who wrote her own Hollywood Reporter column accusing Simmons of raping her. Simmons also denied this, writing:
While her memory of that evening is very different from mine, it is now clear to me that her feelings of fear and intimidation are real. While I have never been violent, I have been thoughtless and insensitive in some of my relationships over many decades, and I sincerely apologize.
Simmons has categorically denied the new allegations in the New York Times:
I vehemently deny all these allegations. These horrific accusations have shocked me to my core and all of my relations have been consensual.
In response to the new allegations in the Los Angeles Times, Simmons wrote:
These new stories range from the patently untrue to frivolous and hurtful claims. I want to restate categorically what I have said previously: I have never been violent or abusive to any women in any way at any time in my entire life.
Here are the allegations against Simmons, in chronological order.
Circa 1983: Sherri Hines, a member of the hip-hop group Mercedes Ladies who performed under the name Sheri Sher, says that Simmons—who she knew through the music scene before this incident—invited her to see his new offices after they ran into each other at a club. Once there, Hines says Simmons pinned her to a couch and raped her. Two women confirmed that Hines told them about the incident when it occurred; Hines also says she put a version of this encounter in her 2008 novel Mercedes Ladies.
1988: Lisa Kirk says that Simmons attempted to assault her in the women’s restroom at Carmelita’s Reception House in New York during a night of partying with mutual friends. According to Kirk, Simmons followed her into the bathroom, pushed into a stall with enough force to tear her clothes, and was starting to take his penis out when she made eye contact and he fled. “He looked mortified and literally ran out of the bathroom,” Kirk told the Los Angeles Times. She first described the incident to friends in 2012, and came forward publicly after reading Simmons’ denial of Keri Claussen Khalighi’s claims.
1988: Toni Sallie, a music journalist, says Simmons invited her to his apartment, ostensibly to attend a party for his girlfriend. According to Sallie, there was no party; she says Simmons was there alone, pushed her onto a bed, and attacked and raped her. Three people confirmed to the New York Times that Sallie had told them about the alleged incident at the time it happened. A year later, Sallie says, Simmons attacked her in a hotel lobby, grabbing her hair; she says she escaped to her room and barricaded the door.
1990: In an interview with Variety in 2018, Alexia Norton Jones, granddaughter of W.W. Norton, alleged that she had gone on a date with Simmons in 1990 that ended in rape. According to the interview, although Jones filed a police report with the NYPD in 2017, the statute of limitations in New York meant that he could no longer be charged. Jones told Variety that she did not want money from Simmons, but that she had felt compelled to speak out against “his denials of violence toward other women.”
Circa 1990–1991: Tina Baker, a lawyer who, in the 1980s and 1990s, released records under the name Tina B, says that Simmons, who was her manager at the time, invited her to his apartment after running into her at a club. She had been there before in a professional capacity, but on this occasion, she says that Simmons scuffled with her, then pushed her down and raped her. “I shut my eyes and waited for it to end,” she told the New York Times. Five people, including her psychiatrist and her ex-husband, confirmed that Baker had told them about the alleged incident previously.
1991: Model Keri Claussen Khalighi says that Simmons, along with director Brett Ratner, took her to dinner at Mr. Chow, then went back to Simmons’ apartment. Once there, Khalighi says, Simmons took off her clothes and coerced her into performing oral sex while Ratner watched. She also says she asked Ratner for help escaping Simmons’ advances, but he did nothing. While taking a shower afterward, she says, Simmons joined her and “briefly penetrated her without her consent.” (Ratner, through his attorney, said he had no recollection of Khalighi asking him for help.) Khalighi was 17 at the time.
1991: Jenny Lumet, a screenwriter and the daughter of filmmaker Sidney Lumet, says that Simmons offered her a ride home after they ran into each other at Indochine. Once she got into Simmons’ car, she alleges, he locked the doors and had his driver take her to his apartment. Once there, Lumet says, Simmons maneuvered her into the elevator, then his apartment, where he allegedly ignored her request to wait, and closed the door of his bedroom. Lumet, who says she was concerned with returning home safely, wrote, “At that point, I simply did what I was told.”
1991: Fashion publicist and reality TV personality Kelly Cutrone publicly accused Simmons of attempted rape in December 2017, first in a Page Six interview and then in a first-person piece for The Cut. According to these accounts, Cutrone was casually acquainted with Simmons when she ran into him at a party in 1991. Simmons and Cutrone left the party together, and under the pretext of needing to stop by a friend’s house, Simmons allegedly lured Cutrone inside before attempting to rape her.
1994: In June 2018, the Hollywood Reporter published Sil Lai Abrams’ accusations against Simmons and followed up with a first-person account from Abrams explaining her decision to come forward. According to Abrams, she met Simmons in 1989, and they began a casual relationship which had effectively ended by 1994, when they met again. Abrams alleges that after a night of drinking, Simmons raped her while she slept even after she had “told Simmons explicitly that the physical aspect of the relationship was over.” Abrams said she initially attempted to come forward in 2017 with MSNBC, but the story was killed.
1995: Drew Dixon, a music executive who reported to Simmons at Def Jam Recordings, says that Simmons harassed her repeatedly at work, exposing himself to her on multiple occasions and asking her to sit on his lap at a staff meeting. Eventually, Dixon says, she ran into Simmons outside a bar and accepted his offer to call her a car. She says she went to his apartment to wait for the ride; once there, despite her protests, he allegedly pinned her to the bed; she blacked out, in what she describes as a dissociative state—she hadn’t been drinking—and woke up naked in a hot tub with Simmons. Four friends of Dixon say she told them about the experience when it happened. In 1997, Simmons, who denies ever having sex with Dixon, settled with her out of court in a dispute over sexual harassment allegations and money she was owed from her time at Def Jam.
1996: Actress Natashia Williams-Blach says that Simmons took her to a yoga class, then took her to his house, ostensibly to watch promotional videos for How to Be a Player, a film Williams-Blach was appearing in. Once there, she alleges, he tried to kiss her and pushed her head towards his crotch to force her to give him oral sex. She was an 18-year-old freshman at the time of the alleged incident and, she told the Los Angeles Times, got Simmons to back off by telling him she had to go to study hall.
2005: Erin Beattie, a massage therapist, says that Simmons exposed himself to her during a massage at the Alexis Hotel in Seattle, asking her to touch his penis. After she refused, Beattie says, she told Simmons she would either leave or finish the massage with no sexual contact. The next day, she says, Simmons hired her to give him another massage, during which he did not proposition her, but allegedly used sexual and racial innuendos. Simmons, though his attorney, says he remembers asking Beattie for a “happy ending” in jest. “It was not a joke,” Beattie told the Los Angeles Times. Her boyfriend at the time and another friend confirmed that Beattie told them about the alleged incident when it happened.
Circa 2015: Luann de Lesseps of The Real Housewives of New York City told the Daily Beast in 2018 that Simmons had “grabbed [her] ass in an elevator” at Soho Beach House, Miami “around three summers ago .” De Lesseps did not file a report.
2014: Christina Moore says she and a friend met Simmons, whom they did not know, in an elevator at Miami’s Soho Beach House. They asked him for directions to the bar, where they were supposed to meet some friends, but instead, Simmons led them to his room. According to Moore, Simmons ran a bath, then sexually assaulted her, pushing her against a column and running his “hands all over [her] body, up and down.” At that point, she and her friend fled.
2016: Comedian and actress Amanda Seales says that Simmons, in a business meeting, used vulgar language to ask if they’d ever slept together, allegedly replying “Oh, right. ’Cause I would’ve remembered that, right?” when she told him she had not.
2016: Karen Russell, the former general manager at the Simmons-owned yoga studio, Tantris, says that Simmons aggressively pursued instructors at the studio. When one yoga instructor complained to Russell that Simmons would not stop asking her out, Russell says, she reported this to management, but her concerns were dismissed. A different instructor, who remained anonymous because she had signed a non-disclosure agreement, told the Los Angeles Times that she quit because of Simmons’ controlling nature and a work environment in which women were being sexualized.
2016: In January 2018, Jennifer Jarosik accused Simmons of sexual battery and rape and filed a lawsuit against him for $5 million in damages. According to the complaint, filed with the federal court in Los Angeles, Jarosik befriended Simmons in 2006 in New York and they agreed to work on a documentary film together, but when she rejected his advances in 2016, he raped her. At the time of this lawsuit, The New York Times also reported that Jarosik was planning to lodge a criminal complaint with the NYPD for a separate assault in 2011. In April 2018, the Los Angeles lawsuit was dismissed “with prejudice,” meaning that the case cannot be brought back to court.