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Following at least 11 accusations of sexual misconduct against Russell Simmons — seven of which allegedly happened in New York City — the New York Police Department’s special victims unit has opened an investigation of the embattled music mogul.
A person at the NYPD who was not authorized to comment publicly and requested anonymity told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday that detectives are in the initial stages of reaching out to women who have alleged that Simmons assaulted them in New York.
Sherri Hines, who went by the name Sheri Sher when she was in the all-female hip-hop group Mercedes Ladies, told The Times on Thursday that she was contacted by the NYPD earlier in the day. She says Simmons raped her in his New York office around 1983.
Simmons’ attorney, Brad Rose, said late Thursday that his client “fully supports and will cooperate with the police inquiry and is confident of a swift resolution.”
Simmons has previously denied the claims of all the women accusing him of misconduct. On Instagram on Thursday he vowed to fight back against the allegations.
“Today, I begin to properly defend myself. I will prove without any doubt that I am innocent of all rape charges,” he wrote, adding a #NotMe hashtag to his post.
On Nov. 19, The Times published an account from Keri Claussen Khalighi in which the former model said that in 1991, Simmons coerced her to perform oral sex and penetrated her anally against her will in his New York City apartment. A few days later, on Nov. 30, screenwriter Jenny Lumet wrote in the Hollywood Reporter that Simmons had also sexually violated her in 1991 at his New York home.
Simmons, the co-founder of Def Jam Recordings, denied both claims. On Dec. 13, The Times published another investigation in which five women accused Simmons of sexual misconduct; two of those alleged incidents, including an alleged rape, occurred in New York.
That same day, the New York Times reported the accounts of four additional women who said Simmons had behaved inappropriately with them; three of the claims alleged rape that took place in New York.
In response to this week's new allegations, Simmons said he has "never had a sexual encounter that was not consensual or lawful. Ever."
"We were made aware of the alleged crime through the media, and we anticipate there will be more who come forward," the NYPD source said. "We're in the process of setting up interviews and if any victims want to come forward, they should contact us."
Over the last two months, police departments in New York, Los Angeles and Beverly Hills have launched investigations into high-profile show business figures accused of sexual misconduct, most notably disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein.
New York police are also investigating Weinstein, who has been accused of misbehavior ranging from harassment to rape by more than 50 women. The movie executive is also being investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department, including the claim of an Italian model-actress that Weinstein sexually assaulted her in an L.A. hotel room in 2013.
The Beverly Hills Police Department, meanwhile, is investigating filmmaker James Toback, who has been accused by more than 300 women of sexual misconduct. The investigation is one of 12 that have been launched by the Beverly Hills police focusing on sexual assault in Hollywood.
Hines, one of Simmons’ accusers, said an NYPD detective called her on Thursday, saying he was "representing the women that Mr. Simmons may have violated.” The two set up an interview for next week, Hines said.
"I'm appalled that Russell is sitting there calling these women liars and calling me a liar," Hines said. "I'm not trying to bash him, but you did what you did, and what you did in the dark comes to light."
Dec. 14, 4:29 p.m.: This post has been updated to reflect Simmons’ response.