Def-Jam founder Russell Simmons has been accused of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old model in 1991, the LA Times reports. According to the Times, director Brett Ratner was allegedly present at the time of the incident.
The report revealed that Simmons allegedly took advantage of teenager Keri Claussen Khalighi at a casting call. After dinner, the teen was brought back to Simmons’ apartment to look at a music video he had been working on with Ratner. Khaligi, now 43, alleged that “Simmons began pulling off her clothes and making sexually aggressive advances,” while Ratner, “just sat there and watched.” Khaligi alleged that further non-consensual acts took place that night.
“Everything that occurred between Keri and me occurred with her full consent and participation,” Simmons said in a statement. Ratner said that he had “no recollection” of the night. The news comes as a spotlight is being shone on incidences of sexual misconduct in the entertainment industry. In 2001, police investigated Simmons and Ratner for alleged sexual battery, but charges were dropped due to insufficient evidence.
Simmons, who has been vocal in highlighting his own social activism and support for the #MeToo sexual harassment campaign, stated that Khalighi’s claim “does a disservice to those who have been true victims of sexual harassment.”
The entrepreneur was also met with further criticism from Terry Crews, who also recently came forward with his account of an agent groping him at a Hollywood event. In a Twitter post, the actor revealed that he felt pressure to withdraw his allegations after Simmons reportedly emailed him to ask that he “give the agent a pass,” to which Crews replied: “no one gets a pass.”
In a concluding statement, Khalighi said: “They are publicly denying these allegations, which implies that the women who come forward are liars. So I’m coming out because what I’ve experienced privately is not matching what they are saying publicly and hypocrisy to me is repugnant and it’s time for the truth to come out.”
Here’s more on the allegations made against Brett Ratner
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