Russell Simmons, Brett Ratner Accused of Teaming Up to Engage in Sexual Misconduct

Russell Simmons and Brett Ratner
DAVID X PRUTTING/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Russell Simmons and Brett Ratner attend TOMMY HILFIGER Fall 2008 Fashion Show at Avery Fisher Hall on Feb. 7, 2008 in New York City.

Russell Simmons and Brett Ratner have been accused of teaming up to allegedly sexually harass and assault women, according to a new report in the Los Angeles Times.

The Times -- which first reported that six women, including Olivia Munn and Natasha Henstridge, claim that Ratner sexually harassed and assaulted them -- reported on new claims against Ratner and revealed that longtime friend Russell Simmons allegedly engaged in inappropriate behavior with the director and producer.

One woman, Keri Claussen Khalighi, claims that when she was a 17-year-old fashion model she met Ratner, then an up-and-coming music video director and protege of Simmons, the music mogul who co-founded Def Jam Recordings, and Simmons at a casting call. After dinner one night in 1991, they took her back to Simmons' apartment, ostensibly to show her a music video they had been working on, she told the Times.

But Simmons quickly began making aggressive sexual advances and tore off her clothes, Khalighi told the Times.

“I looked over at Brett and said ‘help me’ and I'll never forget the look on his face,” she told the newspaper. “In that moment, the realization fell on me that they were in it together.”

She said that Simmons then tried to force her to have intercourse, which she "fought … wildly." He coerced her to perform oral sex, though, she said, and she "acquiesced." While taking a shower, she says, Simmons walked up behind her and briefly penetrated her without her consent. She jerked away and then he left, she says, saying of the experience, "it hurt so much."

Simmons strongly disputed Khalighi's account in a statement claiming, “Everything that occurred between Keri and me occurred with her full consent and participation."

Khalighi said that she saw Simmons at the Soho House in West Hollywood last year, where he approached her and delivered a "really touching, remorseful apology" for his behavior. Simmons' attorney, Brad D. Rose, meanwhile, says the apology was in the “context for the embarrassment and upheaval the weekend caused her" connected to her “infidelity.” She disputes that account.

In a statement to the Times, Simmons said Khalighi’s claim “does a disservice to those who have been true victims of sexual harassment.”

“Let me be crystal clear and very direct. Abusing women in any way shape or form violates the very core of my being,” he said in statements obtained by the Times and The Hollywood Reporter.

In a statement received by THR, Simmons adds, "I completely and unequivocally deny the horrendous allegations of non-consensual sex against me with every fiber of my being."

Ratner, meanwhile, via his attorney Martin Singer, has disputed the accounts of sexual misconduct he's faced from at least 10 other women. Singer said of the incident with Khalighi that Ratner has "no recollection" of her asking him for help and didn't see her "protest."

Khalighi said she told at least three people of her encounter with Ratner and Simmons, all of whom corroborated her story to the Times. Simmons attorney provided a signed statement from Simmons' former assistant Anthony "Mac" McNair who said he saw Khalighi go to Simmons' bedroom "on her own volition and without any coercion or undue influence.” McNair, who couldn't be reached by The Times, also said the group went to a nightclub later that evening and that he saw her at Simmons' house the next day. Simmons' attorney also provided two additional anonymous statements from people saying Khalighi didn't show any signs of distress that weekend. Khalighi said she didn't see anyone but Ratner and Simmons at Simmons' apartment and didn't recall being there the next day.

Khalighi said she reached out to Simmons after the Times posted its Nov. 1 story about Ratner and said she was considering telling her story. He called her and they spoke for 27 minutes, phone records reviewed by the Times reveal. She said during that call he didn't deny any of her claims but apologized and mentioned that he's the father of two daughters.

Khalighi also said she discussed the 1991 run-in with Ratner when she saw him one night in L.A. 15 years ago.

"He listened and he un-defensively acknowledged the truth of what had happened,” Khalighi told the Times. “He said he was young and stupid and blinded by Russell's sway over him.”

“They are publicly denying these allegations, which implies that the women who come forward are liars,” Khalighi added to the newspaper. “So I'm coming out because what I've experienced privately is not matching what they are saying publicly and hypocrisy to me is repugnant and it's time for the truth to come out.”

The Sunday (Nov. 19) story in the Times includes more allegations against Ratner, which Times reporter Amy Kaufman had said the paper was investigating in the wake of its Nov. 1 report claiming Ratner harassed and assaulted at least six women.

Several women claimed that Ratner's friends, including Simmons and director James Toback, who's been accused of sexual misconduct by hundreds of women, enabled inappropriate behavior within the group, the Times reports.

More to come...

This article originally appeared in THR.