Another alleged sexual predator bites the dust. Russell Simmons has just announced he is stepping away from his empire, and he just released a statement addressing charges leveled against him by Jenny Lumet, the daughter of director Sidney Lumet and the screenwriter of Rachel Getting Married and other films. She wrote a guest column in THR this morning charging that Simmons sexually assaulted her. Responding to a claim by Simmons that he never harmed a woman, she wrote in graphic terms of a night in which, after claiming he would give a ride home, instead instructed the driver to lock the doors, and take her to his home. There, he sexually assaulted her, Lumet wrote. This behavior came after years of Simmons trying unsuccessfully to get Lumet to date him, she wrote.
Simmons had been named previously in an alleged assault that was intertwined with his longtime friend Brett Ratner, who has also been disgraced in the ongoing scandals that saw him removed from RatPac Entertainment. Simmons just issued this statement:
“I have been informed with great anguish of Jenny Lumet’s recollection about our night together in 1991. 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. While I have never been violent, I have been thoughtless and insensitive in some of my relationships over many decades and I sincerely and humbly apologize.
This is a time of great transition. The voices of the voiceless, those who have been hurt or shamed, deserve and need to be heard. As the corridors of power inevitably make way for a new generation, I don’t want to be a distraction so I am removing myself from the businesses that I founded. The companies will now be run by a new and diverse generation of extraordinary executives who are moving the culture and consciousness forward. I will convert the studio for yogic science into a not-for-profit center of learning and healing. As for me, I will step aside and commit myself to continuing my personal growth, spiritual learning and above all to listening.”