Russell Simmons is and will always be known as one of the leading voices in urban comedy. Today, a woman named Jenny Lumet revealed she was sexually assaulted by Simmons which now appears to have prompted the mogul to step away from his companies. Allegations against Simmons started this month when a model expressed an unfortunate encounter with him. In a now released statement, Simmons went on to address the new allegations from Lumet and shared that separating from his companies would be best. Here’s what he wrote;
“I have been informed with great anguish of Jenny Lumet’s recollection about our night together in 1991. I know Jenny and her family and have seen her several times over the years since the evening she described. 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. While I have never been violent, I have been thoughtless and insensitive in some of my relationships over many decades and I sincerely and humbly apologize. This is a time of great transition. The voices of the voiceless, those who have been hurt or shamed, deserve and need to be heard. As the corridors of power inevitably make way for a new generation, I don’t want to be a distraction so I am removing myself from the businesses that I founded. The companies will now be run by a new and diverse generation of extraordinary executives who are moving the culture and consciousness forward. I will convert the studio for yogic science into a not-for-profit center of learning and healing. As for me, I will step aside and commit myself to continuing my personal growth, spiritual learning and above all to listening.”
Lumet’s allegations to The Hollywood Reporter revealed a night she shared with Simmons which resulted in him sexually assaulting her at his apartment. She also noted that the two crossed paths several times since then but felt the need to speak about the alleged assault following producer Harvey Weinstein’s scandal. Here’s an excerpt of Lumet’s allegations;
You didn’t punch me, drag me or verbally threaten me. You used your size to maneuver me, quickly, into the elevator. I said “Wait. Wait.” I felt dread. I was very, very sad. I didn’t know if the driver was a further threat or an ally. I was both relieved and terrified when he did not get into the elevator. Alone in the elevator, you pressed me into the corner with your body, your hands, and your mouth. The elevator did not stop on the way up to your apartment. I was moved very quickly inside. I recall hearing the apartment door closing behind us. I saw no one else. I recall you were behind me. I was still hoping the Russell I knew would reappear, as I could not recognize the man moving me deeper into the apartment — the man who had said “No” to his driver. Twice. You moved me into a bedroom. I said, “Wait.” You said nothing.
So what does this mean for Russell’s comedy ventures like the new All Def Comedy on HBO, Def Comedy Jam, Comedy-Hub All Def Digital, and live shows? Is this the end of an era?