Jenny Lumet, the award-winning screenwriter behind Rachel Getting Married and The Mummy, is the latest woman to come forward with the resounding call of #MeToo, sharing what she says was her horrific encounter with music mogul Russell Simmons, who she says sexually assaulted her when she was in her early 20s.
Lumet, the daughter of filmmaker Sidney Lumet and the granddaughter of singer and activist Lena Horne, took Simmons to task for his apparent hypocrisy in claiming, “I have never committed any acts of aggression or violence in my life. I would never knowingly cause fear or harm to anyone.”
That, of course, was Simmons’ statement in response to accusations from model Keri Claussen Khalighi, who earlier this month accused Simmons of sexually assaulting her when she was 17 years old.
But according to Lumet, Simmons’ statement could not be further from the truth she knows, a truth she detailed in the Hollywood Reporter.
Lumet accused Simmons, the co-founder of Def Jam Recordings, of taking her to his home against her wishes after she accepted a ride.
I got into the car with you. The driver began to drive. I assumed you knew where I lived, because you had sent me 250 balloons, but I gave the driver my address on 19th Street and 2nd Avenue.
You said to the driver: “No.”
I didn’t understand, so I said: “Russell?”
I said, again, to the driver: “19th Street.”
Again you said to the driver: “No. ”
Then, the car doors locked. It was loud. The noise made me jump.
I didn’t recognize you at that moment. It was disorienting. It was disorienting. I say it twice, now, because you said “No” twice, then.
I couldn’t open the doors. I couldn’t open the windows. The car was moving. The driver did not stop. He did not take me to 19th Street. He took me to your apartment.
I didn’t try to kick the windows out. I didn’t punch or kick. I didn’t say “What are you doing?” My voice left me after the second “No”.
Lumet continued, recalling how she ended up doing what she was told, simply because she was not sure if the situation would turn violent:
You moved me into a bedroom. I said “Wait.” You said nothing.
I made the trade in my mind. I thought “just keep him calm and you’ll get home.” Maybe another person would have thought differently, or not made the trade.
It was dark, but not pitch dark. You closed the door.
At that point, I simply did what I was told.
There was penetration. At one point you were only semi-erect and appeared frustrated. Angry? I remember being afraid that you would deem that my fault and become violent. I did not know if you were angry, but I was afraid that you were.
I desperately wanted to keep the situation from escalating. I wanted you to feel that I was not going to be difficult. I wanted to stay as contained as I could.
You told me to turn over on my stomach. You said something about a part of my body. You did not ejaculate inside me.
When it was over, I got my clothes and quickly went down in the elevator by myself. You didn’t try to stop me. I went home in a taxi. I was grateful to be secure in my home.
The famed screenwriter finished her story, recalling how she strove for normalcy since that day when encountering Simmons, and all the events that were tainted by his presence and his silence about the encounter:
“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. 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.
There is so much guilt, and so much shame. There is an excruciating internal reckoning. As a woman of color, I cannot express how wrenching it is to write this about a successful man of color. Again, shame about who I was years ago, choices made years ago. In this very moment, I feel a pang to protect your daughters. I don’t think you are inclined to protect mine.
Lumet’s article caused a stir across social media and news platforms, prompting a quick response from Simmons, who announced that he would be stepping aside from his companies.
“The companies will now be run by a new and diverse generation of extraordinary executives who are moving the culture and consciousness forward,” Simmons said in a statement. “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.”
As to Lumet’s actual accusations, Simmons claims that “her memory of that evening is very different” from his.
“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, in what I think was meant to be an apology.
Read more at the Hollywood Reporter.