Def Jam co-founder Russell Simmons accused of sexual assault

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A sexual assault lawsuit has been filed against Def Jam Recordings co-founder Russell Simmons.

The Los Angeles-based plaintiff – identified as Jane Doe – says she was previously a film producer and “worked as a senior-level music executive at Def Jam Recordings”.

According to the lawsuit, obtained by Pitchfork, Doe was working as a music video producer at the time of the alleged incident and had been often working on videos for Def Jam.

She claims she “went in-house and worked for Def Jam” in the mid-1990s, adding that she was “responsible for supervising all film production and a demanding release schedule for a large artists roster.”

Doe adds that she had a professional relationship with Simmons at the time and that he “was not flirtatious with her at all.”

She explains that she would regularly bring music videos to Simmons’ Manhattan apartment for review, however “Simmons suddenly began to turn his rapacious attention toward Ms. Doe,” allegedly “invading her personal space while making sexual innuendos, suggestions, and advances, and rubbing the front of his pants.”

The alleged assault occurred when Doe was brought to Simmons’ apartment as she needed approval on a rough cut of a video.

Simmons, according to the lawsuit, “aggressively and relentlessly flirted with Ms. Doe, made sexual innuendos and advances, asked sexually explicit questions, including personal questions about her sexual preferences and questioning if she was currently wearing a bra.”

“All of a sudden,” the complaint reads, “Mr. Simmons performed a ‘wrestling move,’ climbing on top of Ms. Doe and pinning her arms down on the bed.”

Allegedly Simmons continued to ask Doe to have sex with him but she repeatedly rejected him. “Simmons ignored Ms. Doe’s resistance and proceeded to rape her,” according to the complaint.

Following the alleged assault, Doe says that she quit Def Jam in 1997 and worked as an executive producer for film and commercial production companies.

Doe adds that as a result of the alleged assault, she “struggled in her relationships with employers” and “became overwhelmed with anxiety.”

Due to this, Doe claims to have moved from New York to California, explaining that she felt like a “a completely different person” after the alleged assault.

Jane Doe is suing Russell Simmons for sexual battery/assault, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and violation of the New York City Gender Motivated Violence Act.

In a statement, Doe’s attorneys, Kenya K. Davis and Sigrid McCawley, told Pitchfork: “As detailed in the complaint, our client was sexually assaulted and harassed by her boss, Russell Simmons, while pursuing her professional ambitions as an executive at Def Jam.

“She was proud of her contributions to the burgeoning musical genre of hip hop, but her hard work and her career in music was disrupted and derailed by Mr. Simmons, a rich and powerful celebrity whose wealth and influence allowed his abusive behaviour to go unchallenged for decades.”

The statement continues: “Now a successful writer and producer in the entertainment industry, Jane Doe’s traumatic experiences with Simmons echo those of so many other women who he has preyed upon for decades.”

Simmons has shared with Pitchfork: “I have never engaged in nonconsensual sex. I would not, did not, and never will.”

Since 2017, Simmons has faced several allegations of sexual assault which he has denied.

Model Keri Claussen Khalighi and writer Jenny Lumet came forward in 2017 accusing Simmons of rape in 1991. That same year, more women came forward to the Los Angeles Times in an investigative report in which Simmons denied all claims.

AFEM sponsor a confidential support service for anyone affected by sexual harassment within the Electronic Music Industry Health Assured provide the service to ensure confidential expert counselling A safe and supportive environment for anyone who has been affected and needs guidance and support Call 0800 030 5182, (Outside the UK: +44 800 030 5182) where trained experts will listen and support.

Becky Buckle is Mixmag’s Multimedia Editor, follow her on Twitter

Written by: Tim Hopkins

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