Def Jam recordings founder Russell Simmons is sued for rape by woman who claims he wrestled her then sexually assaulted her at NYC apartment, a year after another woman accused him of sex attack

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Written By Maya Cantina
  • The plaintiff, who lodged the complaint in New York federal court on Tuesday, has accused the music mogul, 66, of raping her at his apartment in the 1990s 
  • New York-born multi-millionaire Simmons, who founded hip-hop and R&B label Def Jam Recordings in 1984, is yet to respond to the damning allegations 

Music executive Russell Simmons has been sued for sexual harassment and battery by a former Def Jam Recordings executive.

The plaintiff, who lodged the complaint in New York federal court on Tuesday, has accused the music mogul, 66, of raping her at his apartment in the 1990s. 

She claims in the lawsuit she was invited to his home, where he started ‘wrestling’ with her in a ‘playful’ manner, before the ‘situation escalated into aggression.’ 

New York-born Simmons, who founded hip-hop and R&B label Def Jam Recordings in 1984 and is worth an estimated $340million, is yet to respond to the allegations. 

He previously claimed to have slept with ‘thousands’ of women, and acknowledged that a handful have come forward with ‘compromising’ stories about him. 

Simmons said in an interview, before this lawsuit came out: ‘Of course I’ve been insensitive, but certainly never been forceful in any of my relationships.’ 

Music executive Russell Simmons, 66, has been sued for sexual harassment and battery by a former Def Jam Recordings executive. He has not yet responded to the damning allegations

Simmons, pictured in 1990. He founded hip-hop and R&B label Def Jam Recordings in 1984

Simmons, pictured in 1990. He founded hip-hop and R&B label Def Jam Recordings in 1984

The lawsuit states: ‘Ms. Doe repeatedly told Mr. Simmons to get off of her, but he refused. Mr. Simmons proceeded to rape her.’ 

Simmons ‘called people over to his Manhattan apartment all the time when he did not want to come to the office,’ the suit states. ‘It was common to head over to Mr. Simmons’s apartment in order to show him something or get approval.’ 

The music exec also allegedly harassed her at their office. The lawsuit claims: ‘He would sit on her desk, lean over her, aggressively invading her personal space while making sexual innuendos, suggestions, and advances, and rubbing the front of his pants.’

He would block her from opening her office door to kick him out, the suit claims.

The Los Angeles woman is described as someone who was ‘pursuing her career and passion as a music executive’ and is now an accomplished film producer.  

The lawsuit also has made claims for battery, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. 

It claims: ‘Ms. Doe’s career in the music industry was disrupted and derailed by a devastating experience at the hands of Mr. Simmons. 

‘While at first Mr. Simmons and Ms. Doe had a professional working relationship, Mr. Simmons revealed his true colors and, through his assaultive behavior, disabled Ms. Doe’s career at Def Jam, a job she loved, at the height of her success and financial viability.’ 

It was brought under the state’s Adult Survivors Act – but the window for old sexual misconduct claimants to come forward closed in November. 

After the alleged rape, the plaintiff ‘was wrought with distress, the suit says.

It continued: ‘At the peak of her career success at Def Jam, making award-winning videos for their biggest artists, she experienced overwhelming anxiety, shame, humiliation and debilitating low self-esteem. 

‘She suffered frequent panic attacks, struggling to go to the Def Jam offices or to function in her leadership role. She tried to continue to work at Def Jam, but just a short time after the assault, to the surprise of peers and colleagues, she gave notice, quit the job she loved, and moved across the country to California. 

‘She eventually confided in a small group of trusted friends and therapists about what happened—long before the passage of New York’s Adult Survivors Act in 2022.’ 

This comes just two months after Russell Simmons opened up about the sexual assault allegations that have derailed his career in a new interview shot in Bali.

He claimed he’s never been violent with anyone, and that he has taken nine lie detector tests since allegations against him surfaced six years ago.

The New York native, appearing on In Depth with Graham Bensinger, acknowledged that he’d behaved in a ‘crude’ manner and had past been involved in ‘compromising situations’ sexually, amid allegations of sexual misconduct from at least 15 women.

American entrepreneur Russell Simmons (right) with model Amber Smith at the 1996

American entrepreneur Russell Simmons (right) with model Amber Smith at the 1996

Russell Simmons attends MusiCares Persons of the Year Honoring Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson at Los Angeles Convention Center on February 3, 2023

Russell Simmons attends MusiCares Persons of the Year Honoring Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson at Los Angeles Convention Center on February 3, 2023 

Russell Simmons during The 36th Annual GRAMMY Awards

Russell Simmons during The 36th Annual GRAMMY Awards

Russell Simmons pictured on October 18, 2023.

Russell Simmons pictured on October 18, 2023.

‘If you had slept with as many people as I had slept with – thousands – and we’re talking about like six people,’ he said, the latter number referring to people he says he ‘spoke poorly’ to in the past.

Simmons, who spends most of his time residing in Bali, Indonesia, where the interview was filmed, said that he’s ‘never been violent to anybody,’ which is not to say he always treated his sexual partners well.

‘Of course I’ve been insensitive,’ he said, ‘but certainly never been forceful in any of my relationships, all of which I’ve had have been consensual.’

The music mogul told Bensinger that he has taken nine polygraph tests in an effort to clear his name in the wake of the accusations against him, which were part of the MeToo movement that commenced in the fall of 2017.

‘I took nine lie detector tests, people don’t know that,’ the Def Jam co-founder said. ‘Nine separate – seven from the Chairman of the Polygraph Association – one for each and serious accusation.’

Simmons said that in taking the lie detector tests, he addressed specific verbiage in allegations made against him.

‘When someone said, for instance, “I was violent” – one person said that – and I’ve never been violent. Took that,’ he said. ‘And one said I apologized. I never apologized about assaulting anyone.

Russell Simmons, 66, opened up about the sexual assault allegations that have derailed his career in a new interview in December

Russell Simmons, 66, opened up about the sexual assault allegations that have derailed his career in a new interview in December 

Simmons, who spends most of his time residing in Bali, Indonesia, where the interview was filmed, said that he's 'never been violent to anybody,' which is not to say he always treated his sexual partners well

Simmons, who spends most of his time residing in Bali, Indonesia, where the interview was filmed, said that he’s ‘never been violent to anybody,’ which is not to say he always treated his sexual partners well

Simmons talks on the phone in Manhattan in 1991

Simmons talks on the phone in Manhattan in 1991

‘But if two people say it, because one said it, and MeToo, and the second person said it, then I took a test for it. Three hours per test by two polygraph examiners – one that I’ve never done this to anyone and one, I’ve never done to each individual.’

Simmons said he believed in the veracity of the lie detector tests he took, saying, ‘Some people say that they’re not accurate, but it’s 94 percent accurate.

‘I did nine of them, it’s pretty clear that I don’t believe it,’ Simmons said. ‘I even asked if, “Well, what if I believe it, but it’s not true?” He said, “Your subconscious will get you.”

‘I don’t know how true that is, but that’s what was told to me by the chairman of the Polygraph Association.’

Simmons said that there were ‘very gray’ areas in which he might have processed a memory different than another person involved might have.

‘I can simply tell you that I was in so many compromising situations, that people can have a recollection from 30 or 40 years ago,’ he said, ‘and it can be different from my recollection. And it could be one where there is perhaps a collaboration.’

Simmons’ family troubles spilled over publicly last year when his ex-wife Kimora Lee Simmons and daughter Aoki Lee Simmons aired their grievances with him in June.

Aoki claimed he had been verbally abusive toward her, sharing text messages and screengrabs of her communications with her father.

Kimora and Aoki were critical of Russell Simmons in June, when they took to social media with complaints about his behavior

Kimora and Aoki were critical of Russell Simmons in June, when they took to social media with complaints about his behavior

Aoki explained to Teen Vogue in September about her rationale in going public with details of her stormy relationship with her father, saying that he had negatively impacted her mental health with his mercurial conduct.

‘Part of it was already out there,’ Aoki said. ‘There were reasons I thought it was reasonable to publish because it was playing out in, like, a silent bubble.’

Aoki in June posted texts and video of her interactions with her father in depicting their fractured relationship.

She said the Def Jam co-founder had been ‘awful to [her] for years,’ and that she’d had significant anxiety issues as a result.

Aoki said that Russell – who previously tried in vain to salvage his reputation following the sexual misconduct allegations with a publicity campaign – has not been well ‘for years.’

She wrote: ‘He needs help and won’t accept that. He refuses to acknowledge he is not himself.

‘He has threatened and bullied my sister, my grandma, he has harassed my grandma in the middle of the night in poor health, [sent] a man to my sister’s apartment at 2am to scare her.’

Aoki said that Russell ‘lashes out at ANYONE who does not say “oh Russell everything is fine,”‘ adding, ‘Well it’s not fine.’

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