Russell Simmons is stepping down from his role in numerous businesses after another woman accused him of sexual assault on Thursday morning. Jenny Lumet, screenwriter (Rachel Getting Married) and daughter of director Sidney Lumet, penned an open letter for The Hollywood Reporter, which detailed another horrifying incident. Lumet alleges that the Def Jam co-founder assaulted her in 1991, when she was 24.
Lumet writes that she first met Simmons in the 1980s and saw him around in subsequent years, in groups or out with mutual friends. But one night in 1991, he offered her a ride home. Lumet says there were never sexual implications: “At no time that night did I say: ‘Russell, I will go home with you.’ Or, ‘Come home with me.’ Or ‘I will have sex with you.’ Or ‘I have the desire to have sex with you.’” But when they were in the car, Lumet writes, he repeatedly told the driver not to take her home and locked the doors.
She states that after they arrived at Simmons’ apartment, he and his driver pressured her to come inside, and Simmons assaulted her in the elevator:
“You didn’t punch me, drag me or verbally threaten me. You used your size to maneuver me, quickly, into the elevator. I said “Wait. Wait.” I felt dread. I was very, very sad. I didn’t know if the driver was a further threat, or an ally. I was both relieved and terrified when he did not get into the elevator. Alone in the elevator, you pressed me into the corner with your body, your hands and your mouth.”
According to Lumet, he quickly corralled her into his apartment, and she said “wait” as he took her into the bedroom. He ignored her reservations, and further assaulted her:
There was penetration. At one point you were only semi-erect and appeared frustrated. Angry? I remember being afraid that you would deem that my fault and become violent. I did not know if you were angry, but I was afraid that you were.
I desperately wanted to keep the situation from escalating. I wanted you to feel that I was not going to be difficult. I wanted to stay as contained as I could.
Simmons released a statement of his own to The Hollywood Reporter, which disputed the events as Lumet remembered them, but apologized nonetheless:
“I know Jenny and her family and have seen her several times over the years since the evening she described. 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.”
He continued, “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 also calls it a period of “great transition,” and insists that he’s removing himself from the businesses he founded. He says they “will now be run by a new and diverse generation of extraordinary executives who are moving the culture and consciousness forward,” but it remains unclear how he stands to profit from them in the future.