A woman has come forward accusing Russell Simmons of sexually assaulting her while Brett Ratner watched after a casting call in 1991. Keri Claussen Khalighi was a 17-year-old fashion model from Nebraska when she met the pair, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Ratner was an up-and-coming music video director at the time and Simmons, the Def Jam Recordings mogul, was his mentor. According to the report, Simmons and Ratner took Khalighi to dinner at Mr. Chow in New York, and then back to Simmons’ apartment to show her a music video. Khalighi said it was at Simmons’ apartment that Simmons began ripping off her clothing.
“I looked over at Brett and said ‘help me’ and I'll never forget the look on his face,” she told the Los Angeles Times. “In that moment, the realization fell on me that they were in it together.”
She claimed that Simmons tried to have sex with her.
“I fought it wildly,” she said. Then, he coerced her to perform oral sex, she alleged. “I guess I just acquiesced.”
Khalighi said Ratner sat there and watched. Afterwards, Khalighi took a shower. While showering, Simmons allegedly briefly penetrated her without her consent.
“It hurt so much.”
“As a long-time social activist, I have applauded the strength of the brave men and women who have spoken out over the past month and made their voices heard regarding sexual assault and harassment. I am a supporter of the #MeToo campaign and the victims who were previously terrified to stand up and speak out against sexual misconduct. I completely and unequivocally deny the horrendous allegations of non-consensual sex against me with every fiber of my being. I know Keri Claussen Khalighi and remember the weekend in 1991 that she has referenced. Everything that happened between us 26 years ago was completely consensual and with Keri's full participation. We spent time in my apartment over a period of two days and one night, as well as at some public places including Nell's Nightclub. Much of the time we were in the presence of other acquaintances. I'm deeply saddened and truly shocked to learn of Keri's assertions as to what happened over the course of that weekend. Let me be crystal clear and very direct. Abusing women in any way shape or form violates the very core of my being. I have always spoken out regarding my life experiences, women's issues and the need to bring a faster and more decisive shift in the collective consciousness that will help bring about true women's equality. More than anything, I want my daughters to live in a more equal world and a world where they will not become victims of sexual harassment.”
[Photo: Getty Images]