LOS ANGELES, Nov 20 — Def Jam founder Russell Simmons has issued a statement to ‘unequivocally deny’ accusations that he raped a 17-year-old while his former protégé, Brett Ratner, looked on.
In a Los Angeles Times article published yesterday, model Keri Claussen Khalighi accused Simmons of coercing her into performing oral sex on him, and later penetrated her without her consent, when she was 17 at his New York apartment in 1991.
She also claims that Ratner — then an up-and-coming music video director — “sat there and watched”.
“I looked over at Brett and said, ‘Help me’, and I’ll never forget the look on his face,” she told the Times.
“In that moment, the realisation fell on me that they were in it together.”
In a statement to the Times yesterday, Simmons, now 60, said “everything that occurred between Keri and me occurred with her full consent and participation,” while Ratner said he had “no recollection” of Khalighi asking him for help.
“I completely and unequivocally deny the horrendous allegations of non-consensual sex against me with every fibre of my being,” Simmons added.
Statement of Russell Simmons in Response to LA Times Article. pic.twitter.com/iwT7Wy3SoY
— Russell Simmons (@UncleRUSH) November 19, 2017
The article also cites a 2001 incident in which a woman told Beverly Hills police she was “unlawfully touched” by the pair at Ratner’s Hollywood mansion Hilhaven Lodge, and a 1994 incident at a hotel in South Beach. These allegations have been denied as well.
Ratner — a co-founder of production company RatPac Entertainment — has already faced sexual assault and harassment claims from several women, including actresses Natasha Henstridge, Olivia Munn and Ellen Page, forcing studio Warner Bros to cut ties with the producer.
Simmons is known as the hip-hop pioneer who, with Def Jam co-founder Rick Rubin, brought iconic acts including Public Enemy, LL Cool J and the Beastie Boys to global attention.