Russell is gone...
Russell Simmons is stepping down from the record label he created, arguably the most influential and important label in the history of hip-hop, following further accusations of assault.
The move comes after writer Jenny Lumet told the story of an evening in the early ‘90s where she claims the mogul forced himself on her. While she admits that they had been friends prior to the incident and lays out their interactions before that night, she’s clear that Simmons repeatedly ignored the fact that she wanted to leave and eventually had relations with her against her will.
Lumet’s story begins with Simmons offering her a ride home. When she tries to give the driver her address, Simmons repeatedly instructs him not to listen and then intimidates her into going into his apartment. She continued in her piece for the Hollywood Reporter:
“’I felt dread and disorientation. I wanted to go home. I said I wanted to go home. I didn’t recognize the man next to me. I didn’t know if the situation would turn violent. I remember thinking that I must be crazy; I remember hoping that the Russell I knew would return any moment.
The car stopped at the curb. I don’t recall the street. I recall the driver opening the door from the outside, and you behind me. I was between the two of you. Not wedged, just in the space between you. I remember exchanging a look with the driver. He was unreadable. It was chilly out. It was me and these two men.’”
Lumet said that she complied with Simmons once she was in his apartment for fear of him lashing out against her. While they have seen each other at various Hollywood functions since the event, Jenny said that their friendship was irrevocably damaged by the incident in his apartment.
The screenwriter added that if pained her to disparage a successful businessman who was a person of color, but she felt the need to help the other women who have come forward with allegations of sexual assault against Simmons.
“I don’t recall ever meeting any of the women who have spoken out against you, Russell,” she said. “But I can’t leave those women twisting in the wind. Maybe the recalling of this incident can be helpful. I don’t know if it can.”
Lumet also preemptively countered the (false) narrative that women who come forward with claims of sexual assault for attention or to further their careers.
“I have built a life in the past 25 years, and a reputation in my industry. I need no one to have this visualization of me. I will, like the others, lose work because of this,” she wrote in her open letter. “I realize how privileged I am to be able to risk that. I have children. I’m aware that every mistake, act of thoughtlessness, hypocrisy or cruelty I’ve committed in my 50 years will be excavated, and they’ll see all of it.”
In response to the allegation, Simmons released a statement and stepped away from his company. He also said that he remembers the evening differently while admitting that Lumet’s feelings were valid.
“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 apologize,” he said.”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.”
What do you think? Are you sad to see a titan fall from grace even in light of the allegations against him? Do you think it’s good for Simmons to get out of the way? Sound off in the comments and be sure to SHARE this article.