Article Lead Image

Screengrab via djvlad/YouTube

Woman says Russell Simmons sexually assaulted her when she was 17 (Updated)

Simmons said the incident was consensual.


Chris Tognotti


Posted on Nov 19, 2017   Updated on May 22, 2021, 10:40 am CDT

Update 12:29pm CT, Nov. 31: Simmons on Nov. 30 said he will be stepping down from his businesses following a Hollywood Reporter essay by screenwriter Jenny Lumet which details an account with Simmons in which he sexually assaulted her.

A woman said music mogul Russell Simmons and  sexually assaulted her in 1991 while director Brett Ratner was in the room, according to the Los Angeles Times. The woman, Keri Claussen Khalighi, was 17 at the time, and she said met the pair during a casting call. Khalighi, a native of Nebraska, said the duo took her to dinner at Mr. Chow, an upscale Chinese restaurant in New York City, one night and invited her to Simmons’ apartment afterward to see a music video they were working on.

When they arrived, according to Khalighi, Simmons began pulling off her clothing and trying to force her into sexual intercourse. When she asked Ratner for help, it became apparent that the two men were “in it together,” she said. She said she “acquiesced” to performing oral sex on Simmons, who was more than twice her age, and that the powerful hip hop producer later penetrated her without her consent while she showered.

Simmons denied any allegation of sexual assault or rape, although he did not deny sexual contact with Khalighi.

“Everything that occurred between Keri and me occurred with her full consent and participation,” he told the paper.

Ratner, who is already facing several allegations of sexual assault and harassment, also denied the claims. His attorney, Marty Singer, told the Los Angeles Times the 48-year-old director had “no recollection” of Khalighi asking him for help. Ratner stands accused of varying degrees of predatory behavior by several actresses, including Natasha Henstridge, Jaime Ray Newman, Ellen Page, Katharine Towne, and Olivia Munn. He has similarly denied all those allegations.

The report also states that Khalighi provided records of text messages between she and Simmons that were exchanged after the recent allegations about Ratner surfaced in the press. Simmons reportedly attempted to dissuade her from going public with her story and asked her to speak on the phone.

“I’m really in very scary space if u have time,” Simmons texted. Khalighi did not respond, and moved forward with telling her story to the Times.

This is the first sexual assault allegation against the 60-year-old Simmons, who was reportedly a close associate of Ratner throughout the 1990s. Ratner is also a longtime friend of director James Toback, who has recently been accused of sexually predatory behavior by more than 300 different women. One woman said she was sexually assaulted by Toback at Ratner’s Hilhaven Lodge mansion in Beverly Hills. The 72-year-old director has denied the hundreds of allegations.

Share this article
*First Published: Nov 19, 2017, 12:36 pm CST