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Nine more women step forward accusing Russell Simmons of rape, harassment, and sexual misconduct

on December 13, 2017, 11:05pm

Last month, Russell Simmons stepped down from his various businesses after screenwriter Jenny Lumet penned a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter  in which she accused the hip-hop mogul of sexually violating her in 1991, when she was 24 years old. Lument’s allegations followed an earlier report revealing that Simmons was investigated for alleged sexual battery in 2001 alongside disgraced Hollywood director Brett Ratner, a report that prologued another article from the Los Angeles Times alleging that Simmons forced himself upon a then 17-year-old Keri Claussen Khalighi in 1991 while Ratner stood idly by. Now, two separate exposés from The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, both published Wednesday night, bring new allegations against Simmons from a combined total of nine different women, four of who accuse the Def Jam founder of rape.

Drew Dixon, one of the accusers highlighted by The New York Times, claims to have suffered “prolonged and aggressive sexual harassment” during her tenure as an executive at Def Jam Recordings in 1995. She says Simmons indulged in inappropriately graphic sex talk during work calls, repeatedly exposed his erect penis to her, and, in his downtown Manhattan apartment, raped her. “I remember realizing I was cornered,” she alleges, stating that she repeatedly told him she wasn’t interested in sex. “The last thing I remember was him pinning me down to kiss me on the bed.” Dixon threatened to sue for both sexual harassment and outstanding bills from the label, but both parties settled outside of court. Dixon’s account also includes harassment allegations against famed producer L.A. Reid while she was working for Arista Records in 2000.

“I could not have success in this industry unless I slept with somebody — a gatekeeper,” Dixon says of her reason for leaving the industry. “And the fact that I would be doing it to advance my career, I would hate myself.”

Another alleged victim is a music journalist named Toni Sallie, who briefly dated Simmons in 1987. After their engagement ended, however, Sallie says Simmons “pushed me on the bed and jumped on top of me, and physically attacked me.” He raped her that night, and a year later attacked her once again, this time grabbing her by her hair and chasing her to her hotel room, where she barricaded herself behind the door, Sallie alleges.

A singer named Tina Baker, has a similar story. She claims that Simmons raped her in the early ’90s, when he was serving as her manager. She recalls Simmons pinning her down on a bed and saying, “Don’t fight me,” before penetrating her. “I did nothing,” she tells The New York Times. “I shut my eyes and waited for it to end.”

(Read: A Running List of All the Dudes Accused of Sexual Misconduct Since Harvey Weinstein)

The Los Angeles Times also shares the story of Sherri Hines, a member of the all-female hip-hop group Mercedes Ladies, who claims Simmons raped her in his office around 1983. After inviting her to his office, Hines describes a situation similar to those above. ““The next thing I knew, he was pinning me down and I was trying to fight him and he had his way,” she says. “I left crying.” She was either 17 or 18 at the time of the incident.

Those speaking with the Los Angeles Times also detail stories of attempted assaults from Simmons. Actress Natashia Williams-Blach, for example, claims Simmons attempted to force her to perform oral sex on him in 1996 after the pair met on the set of his movie, How to Be a Player, which he produced. She was only 18 at the time. In 1988, an acquaintance of Simmons alleges that he followed her into a women’s restroom, where he pushed her into a small and exposed himself, tearing his clothes in the process. Like, Williams-Blach, she fled the scene. And, in 2005, massage therapist Erin Beattie recalls Simmons exposing himself to her during a massage after a session filled with lewd, sexually-charged comments.

Despite Simmons rebranding himself as a yogi and wellness guru in recent years, both publications document incidents that took place in his studio within the last decade. A woman named Christina Moore tells The New York Times that in 2014 Simmons invited her and a friend to his hotel room, where he began getting aggressive with her. “[Hands] all over my body, up and down,” she says. “I felt assaulted.”

Former employees of his Tantris yoga studio describe a “sexually charged and tense atmosphere,” noting that Simmons liked to offer “free classes for fashion models” that he would sit in on. Former general manager Karen Russell believes Simmons “was taking advantage of his position to pursue women at the studio.” Several allege that the studio’s employees protected Simmons against several accounts of harassment, saying they’ve “always been able to handle it and clean up his mess.” Beattie, the aforementioned masseuse claims that Simmons liked to brag about how “he could sell yoga DVDs to the masses, whom he called ‘sheep.'”

“There’s a part of his psyche that proclaims and believes that there is something very righteous about how he lives his life, and it’s almost like the truest form of delusion,” says Williams-Blach.

Simmons denies wrongdoing in each case, though he does admit to “inappropriate conduct” with Dixon during her time at Def Jam.

“These new stories range from the patently untrue to frivolous and hurtful claims,” he tells the Los Angeles Times. “I want to restate categorically what I have said previously: I have never been violent or abusive to any women in any way at any time in my entire life.”