Russell Simmons, a prolific music and TV producer and co-founder of Def Jam Recordings, was accused of sexual assault and harassment by model Keri Claussen Khalighi in a Nov. 19 article in The Los Angeles Times. Simmons, who denied the claim to the Times, is now elaborating on the incident in a letter to The Hollywood Reporter, which can be read in full below:
Humanity is going through a powerful and wrenching shift of consciousness that I believe will ultimately lead to a mass awakening in all humankind.
Like all lasting change, this transition is filled with painful disruption and confrontation against an entrenched system. It may sound odd to some that I am encouraged about this time in our history, but I am. The daily news detailing the growing number of experiences of women being victimized are being brought to the light. I do not doubt that the vast majority of the allegations these brave survivors are sharing are true and dignified. I see their stories giving a voice to the voiceless, which has been the central theme of my life’s journey.
I also know from recent painful personal experience that some recollections can be cast in a light away from the actual facts.
In my case, three witnesses [Anthony McNair and two anonymous witnesses] have signed statements that our experiences that weekend with Keri Claussen Khalighi 26 years ago were consensual. My longtime loathing of any form of violence and abuse has been woven into all of my personal interactions, as most who know me will attest.
In our meeting many years later, and subsequent conversations, Keri never accused me of what she has said publicly. She insisted I was not violent. She did tell me her boyfriend and many others found out about our long weekend together and she said she was ashamed by that discovery. I am sorry for the embarrassment she recounted to me.
I have made choices that have offended some of the women in my life. It’s not cool to be a playboy and a new consciousness understands this. Now, as I hear these voices, I do as well. Though never abusive in any way, my remarks were often cavalier and thoughtless, and for this I am humbled. I am a work in progress. I am human. The fact that I come from the world of music or a specific place or generation justifies nothing.
That has been an ongoing deep transition in my life. As a yogi I believe intent is very important. My intent always came from a joyful, playful place. I can sleep at night because I know who I am. And I know who I was. I never committed any acts of aggression or violence in my life. I would never knowingly cause fear or harm to anyone. For any women from my past who I may have offended, I sincerely apologize. I am still evolving.
As the dialogue progresses, let’s not lose sight of what’s truly happening, a shift in power and all that entails. I want that shift. It must lead to a space where women and also men can heal, even if it means attacking me. I remain an activist for women’s rights and all things unjust. This is my life’s work and journey, and God knows my heart. To all the #MeToo campaigns and women around the world, I support your healing and will continue to be an honest and imperfect advocate for the voiceless (including animals) and humanity as a whole.
This article was originally published on The Hollywood Reporter.