Russell Simmons Responds to Rape Accusations With ‘#NotMe’

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Russell Simmons. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Two weeks after Russell Simmons stepped down from Def Jam amid sexual-harassment and assault accusations, the music mogul is fighting back. Nine more women accused Simmons of sexual assault in a pair of New York Times and Los Angeles Times reports published Wednesday evening, and on Thursday afternoon Simmons posted his response on Instagram: “#NotMe,” he wrote, saying that he will begin “to properly defend myself [and] prove without any doubt that I am innocent of all rape charges.” Simmons names the two initial accusers — ex-model Keri Claussen Khalighi and screenwriter Jenny Lumet — that prompted his Def Jam exit. “Today, I will focus on “The Original Sin” (Keri Claussen), the claim that created this insane pile on of my #MeToo. Stay tuned! We’ll share information today… And tomorrow the case of Jenny Lumet.”

Simmons claims that his hashtag isn’t meant to denigrate the #MeToo movement that has inspired victims of sexual harassment and assault to share their stories. “My intention is not to diminish the #MeToo movement in anyway, but instead hold my accusers accountable,” he writes. “#NotMe Again, this is not a movement against or even in conjunction with #MeToo. It’s just a statement about my innocence.”

Simmons previously issued a statement in response to Lumet’s accusation, saying that while “her memory of that evening is very different from mine, it is now clear to me that her feelings of fear and intimidation are real.” The mogul also denied Claussen Khalighi’s account, and apologized to “any women from my past who I may have offended.” In November, Terry Crews tweeted that Simmons suggested he give Adam Venit, the CAA agent Crews has accused of groping him, “a pass.

Russell Simmons Responds to Rape Accusations With ‘#NotMe’