Last month, when screenwriter Jenny Lumet became the second woman to accuse Russell Simmons of sexual assault, he announced that he was stepping down from his companies and apologized for being “thoughtless and insensitive.” Is it possible that he knew more trouble was coming his way?
On Wednesday, two new reports broke bringing the total number of women accusing Simmons of sexual misconduct and rape to 10.
Four women spoke on the record with the New York Times accusing Simmons of a “pattern of violent sexual behavior” in incidents from 1988 to 2014. Three of those women accused him of rape.
Five additional women disclosed stories to the Los Angeles Times, including another alleged rape.
For his part, Simmons has denied the allegations in both reports.
Told of the accusations in the New York Times story, the 60-year-old hip-hop mogul said in a statement: “I vehemently deny all these allegations. These horrific accusations have shocked me to my core and all of my relations have been consensual.
“I have enormous respect for the women’s movement worldwide and their struggle for respect, dignity, equality and power,” he added.
“These new stories range from the patently untrue to frivolous and hurtful claims,” Simmons said in a separate statement to the Los Angeles Times. “I want to restate categorically what I have said previously: I have never been violent or abusive to any women in any way at any time in my entire life.”
Drew Dixon, Tina Baker and Toni Sallie all told the New York Times that Simmons raped them. The women were pursuing careers in the music industry and said that their dreams were deferred after their experiences with Simmons.
Actress Natashia Williams-Blach told the Los Angeles Times that Simmons attempted to force her to perform oral sex on him in 1996 when she was just 18. Massage therapist Erin Beattie said that he exposed himself to her in 2005 while she was giving him a massage at a Seattle hotel and asked her to touch his penis.
Two former employees of his West Hollywood yoga studio, Tantris, said that there was a sexually charged and tense atmosphere at the studio. Karen Russell, the studio’s former general manager, who left in February, told the Los Angeles Times that she believed Simmons used his position to pursue women at the studio.
“Not only are you a multimillionaire, now you claim to be a teacher for yoga; you create and open up a sacred space. That’s a whole ’nother level,” Russell said. “I witnessed this type of behavior condoned by staff.”
Sherri Hines, who was a member of the hip-hop group Mercedes Ladies, told the Los Angeles Times that Simmons raped her in his office sometime around 1983.
Another woman, Lisa Kirk, told the Los Angeles Times that Simmons attempted to assault her in a New York nightclub in 1988.
Insecure actress Amanda Seales accused Simmons of using vulgar language to ask her if they had ever had sex during a September 2016 meeting at the Los Angeles offices of his media company.
Simmons has denied Seales’ claims and provided the Los Angeles Times with signed affidavits from two witnesses who also say that Simmons did not use vulgar language or ask Seales if they had sex.
Ten women speaking out and saying that you have either sexually assaulted or sexually harassed them is a lot. Although Russell Simmons denies the claims, it’s hard not to give him the side eye at this point.
What comes of these allegations remains to be seen.