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Russell Simmons steps down from businesses after new sexual misconduct allegation

Russell Simmons released a statement Thursday morning announcing that he would be stepping down from his companies in the wake of a new sexual misconduct accusation.

The announcement came after screenwriter Jenny Lumet detailed an encounter she had with Simmons in 1991, during which, she alleged, the music mogul intimidated her into having sex.

Lumet – daughter of director Sidney Lumet and granddaughter of music legend Lena Horne – is not the first woman to accuse the Def Jam Recordings co-founder of misconduct. In an interview with The Times earlier this month, Keri Claussen Khalighi accused Simmons of assaulting her in 1991, in the presence of director Brett Ratner. Simmons dismissed Khalighi’s allegations, claiming whatever happened between them was consensual.

With his decision to step away from his companies, Simmons leaves behind All Def Digital, film company Def Pictures and yoga lifestyle brand Tantris, as well as his philanthropic efforts. 

Here is Simmons’ full statement:

“I have been informed with great anguish of Jenny Lumet’s recollection about our night together in 1991. I know Jenny and her family and have seen her several times over the years since the evening she described. 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 and humbly apologize.

“This is a time of great transition. The voices of the voiceless, those who have been hurt or shamed, deserve and need to be heard. 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. The companies will now be run by a new and diverse generation of extraordinary executives who are moving the culture and consciousness forward. 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.”

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