Music producer Russell Simmons steps down after sex assault claim


LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Music producer Russell Simmons said on Thursday he was stepping down from his fashion and production businesses after a screenwriter said in a column in the Hollywood Reporter that Simmons sexually assaulted her in 1991.

Jenny Lumet, the screenwriter daughter of the late movie director Sidney Lumet, in a Thursday Hollywood Reporter column accused Simmons of forcing himself on her in his New York apartment in 1991.

Simmons, 60, the co-founder of hip-hop label Def Jam Records and also a film producer, apologized for his behavior in a statement on his Instagram site.

Reuters could not independently confirm the allegation and representatives for Simmons did not replay to a request for comment.

“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,” Simmons said in his Instagram statement. “While I have never been violent, I have been thoughtless and insensitive in some of my relationships over many decades and I sincerely apologize.”

Lumet could not immediately be reached for comment.

Simmons is regarded as one of the most influential entrepreneurs in the hip-hop world. He also founded the fashion lines Phat Farm and Tantris, and co-produced films and TV shows including “The Nutty Professor” and “Def Comedy Jam.”

Simmons is the latest powerful man in entertainment to be accused of sexual misconduct. “Today” show host Matt Lauer on Thursday apologized for “troubling flaws” after being fired by NBC television for inappropriate behaviour.

FILE PHOTO: Producer Russell Simmons take part in an “I am Muslim Too” rally in Times Square Manhattan, New York