In recent interviews, four women have spoken out officially about a pattern of violent sexual behavior by mr. simmons, revealing incidents from 1988 to 2014. three of the women say he raped them.
in each case, numerous friends and associates said they were made aware of the incidents at the time. The women said they were inspired to come forward after the allegations against Harvey Weinstein, as the victims’ stories have recently been raised and more often believed.
spoke in detail about the rape allegations and other misconduct, mr. Simmons, 60, said in a statement: “I vehemently deny all of these allegations. I have been shocked to the core by these horrifying accusations and all my relationships have been consensual.”
added: “I have enormous respect for the women’s movement around the world and their fight for respect, dignity, equality and power.”
[read the full statement from russell simmons]
last month, mr. Simmons, a hip-hop forefather who found great success in fashion, media and more, apologized for being “thoughtless and insensitive” and announced he was leaving his companies after screenwriter Jenny Lumet became the second woman to publicly accuse of sexual assault at the time.
“I have rededicated myself to spiritual learning, healing and working on behalf of the communities to which I have dedicated my life,” he said in his statement Wednesday. “I have accepted that I can and must get my sleeves dirty if it means witnessing the birth of a new consciousness about women.
“what I will not accept is responsibility for what I have not done. I have led my life with a message of peace and love. Although I have been candid about how I have lived in books and interviews that detail my flaws, I will relentlessly fight any false smears that portray me as a violent man.”
So far, the most powerful men and companies in popular music have emerged largely unscathed from the national sexual abuse trial. One big reason: Sex and debauchery are embedded in the music industry, where the lines between work and play blur on nights in clubs and studios, and many women have little power or incentive to complain about being mistreated.
these women are still up against powerful industry gatekeepers like mr. Simmons, whose pedigree and ability to make or break careers allowed her abusive behavior to go unchallenged for decades, her accusers maintain. “russell was like the king of hip-hop,” says mrs. said dixon.
said she was later harassed by another boss, l.a. reid, the music legend known for her work with tlc and mariah carey, leading her away from a business where women had little autonomy. In a statement to the New York Times, Mr. Reid did not address her specific claims, but apologized if her words were “misconstrued.”
black women, especially, felt powerless against mr. Simmons and his cohort in the small world of urban music, with several saying misconduct against him could go unnoticed because his place in the industry was so tenuous. they feared being ostracized, or worse.
three of the women now accusing mr. Simmons was pursuing careers in the music industry that they said were interrupted or derailed in part by his experiences with it.
“I didn’t sing for almost a year,” said tina baker, an artist who said mr. Simmons raped her in the early 1990s, when he was her manager. “By the time she agreed to work with me, my budget increased, the label was paying more attention to me,” Ms. the baker recalled. But after the assault, she said, “I was forgotten.”
‘he pushed me on the bed’
First known as a hyperactive party promoter turned queens manager who helped launch run-dmc, mr. simmons was one of the first to see hip-hop as big business and a cultural force. In 1983, with producer Rick Rubin, he made Def Jam the record label that defined rap of its day, with hits by the Beastie Boys, ll cool j and public enemy.
even after mr. Simmons sold his remaining stake in Def Jam for $100 million in 1999, serving as an ambassador for hip-hop through comedy (“Def Comedy Jam”), clothing (Phat Farm), and activism. Today, his company, Rush Communications, oversees a variety of businesses and non-profit organizations.
in 1987, toni sallie, a music journalist for the exclusive trade magazine black radio, met mr. simmons while on a mission. she found him a charming if gruff playboy. they ended up going on a few dates before mrs. sallie, then 28, decided they were not a match.