Russell Simmons, the music producer and co-founder of Def Jam Records, faces a lawsuit from filmmaker Jennifer Jarosik over an alleged rape from 2016, according to the California Central District Court. Jarosik is seeking $5 million in punitive damages.
Since the New York Times first reported on the sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein in October, several women have come forward to accuse Simmons of sexual misconduct and sexual assault; together, the alleged victims describe a pattern of predatory behavior beginning in the late ‘80s and now, with Jarosik’s lawsuit, allegedly stretching to less than two years ago.
According to the lawsuit, Jarosik and Simmons met in 2006 and became friends over their shared passion for yoga, meditation, and veganism. In 2016, the lawsuit states, she was invited to Simmons’ L.A. home, where he asked her to have sex and she said no. Simmons became aggressive, pushing Jarosik onto his bed; when she struggled to get away, he knocked her off the bed, hit her head, and proceeded to rape her.
The lawsuit also states that after multiple women publicly accused Simmons this fall of sexual misconduct and assault, Jarosik reached out to Simmons to discuss her alleged rape and Simmons “pretended it never happened.”
Simmons gave the following statement (via Pitchfork):
This allegation is absolutely untrue. I look forward to having my day in court - where, unlike the court of public opinion, I will have the ability to make use of fair processes that ensure that justice will be done and that the full truth will be known. In the meantime, please understand that I will not litigate this matter in the media. I am confident that when all is said and all is done, it will be as clear to others as it is to me that I did not do what this lawsuit accuses me of doing.
Previously, Simmons shared an Instagram image with the hashtag #NotMe and announced he would “begin to properly defend” himself against the rape allegations he was facing by sharing evidence that would prove his innocence—but his feed fell silent shortly after that. At the same time, the number of women accusing Simmons of rape, sexual assault, or sexual misconduct has only grown.
We’ve reached out to Simmons’ representatives and will update as new information is reported.