Russell Simmons confronts Oprah Winfrey over documentary featuring one of his accusers

Russell Simmons targeted Oprah Winfrey in an Instagram post on Friday.
(Scott Roth / Associated Press)

Music mogul Russell Simmons is challenging Oprah Winfrey for executive producing a documentary featuring a woman who has accused him of rape.

On Friday, Simmons took to Instagram to express his disappointment with Winfrey, whom he said he regarded fondly as a positive figure in his life before criticizing her decision to make a film exploring sexual assault allegations against him. The Apple TV+ project, set to debut at the Sundance Film Festival early next year, spotlights Drew Dixon, one of the first women to publicly accuse Simmons of rape.

“Dearest OPRAH, you have been a shining light to my family and my community. Contributing so much to my life that I couldn’t list a fraction of it in this blog,” Simmons captioned a photo of himself and Winfrey having a book talk. “This is why it’s so troubling that you choose me to single out in your recent documentry [sic].”

“I have already admitted to being a playboy more (appropriately titled today ‘womanizer’) sleeping with and putting myself in more compromising situations than almost any man I know. ... So many that some could reinterpret or reimagine a different recollection of the same experiences.”


Several women have accused the Def Jam Recordings cofounder of sexual assault spanning multiple decades. Simmons has denied the claims, including in a 2017 statement to the Los Angeles Times where he said they “range from the patently untrue to frivolous and hurtful.”

The primary subject of Winfrey’s documentary, directed by Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering, is Dixon, who worked as an executive at Def Jam under Simmons in the 1990s and alleged in a 2017 New York Times article that he raped her in his apartment. The film is billed as the journey of “a brilliant former music executive who grapples with whether to go public with her story of assault and abuse by a notable figure in the music industry.”

“Please note that ur producers said that this upcoming doc was to focus ONLY on 3 hand chosen women,” Simmons continued in his lengthy post. “I have refused to get in the mud with any accusers, but let’s acknowledge what i have shared. I have taken and passed nine 3-hour lie detector tests (taken for my daughters), that these stories have been passed on by CNN, NBC, BUZZFEED, NY POST, NY MAG, AND OTHERS. Now that you have reviewed the facts and you SHOULD have learned what I know; that these stories are UNUSABLE and that ‘hurt people hurt people’.”

Keri Claussen Khalighi was a 17-year-old fashion model from a farm town in Nebraska when she met Brett Ratner and Russell Simmons at a casting call.

Nov. 19, 2017

Simmons ended by repeatedly proclaiming his innocence, asserting that he has “never been violent or forced myself on anyone.” His is the second Instagram attack on Winfrey in the last 24 hours, following an earlier post by rapper 50 Cent, who accused the beloved talk show host of singling out black men, such as Simmons, in her #MeToo activism. He also cited the Sundance-bound documentary.

Winfrey’s production company, Harpo Studios, did not answer calls for comment made by The Times.