Russell Simmons has written an essay in response to allegations made last week by model Keri Claussen Khalighi that he sexually assaulted her.
In the essay, published at The Hollywood Reporter, denied the allegations, writing, “In my case, three witnesses [Anthony McNair and two anonymous witnesses] have signed statements that our experiences that weekend with Keri Claussen Khalighi 26 years ago were consensual.”
“I have made choices that have offended some of the women in my life,” Simmons added. “It’s not cool to be a playboy and a new consciousness understands this. Now, as I hear these voices, I do as well.”
Simmons concluded: “To all the #MeToo campaigns and women around the world, I support your healing and will continue to be an honest and imperfect advocate for the voiceless (including animals) and humanity as a whole.”
In Wednesday’s episode of “Megan Kelly Today”, Khalighi revealed Simmons apologized to her privately after she accused him of sexual assault.
Last week, Khalighi came forward with claims that Simmons forced her to have sex with him while director Brett Ratner (who is also accused of sexual assault) watched. Khalighi was 17 at the time.
Simmons responded, saying the events were “consensual,” “Everything that happened between us 26 years ago was completely consensual and with Keri’s full participation.”
Despite his denial, Khalighi told host Megan Kelly that Simmons reached out.
“Russell and I have actually had a face-to-face confrontation around this,” Khalighi told Kelly through a video chat. “We’ve had phone conversations where we’ve had a conversation about what happened where there was no dispute of what we were talking about. We were both talking about what happened on that night and he actually apologized.”
“Part of what’s so confusing and re-traumatizing is what he’s speaking about privately with me is completely different than what’s come out publicly,” Khalighi continued. “And that’s the piece that’s been really, really, really upsetting, disappointing and quite honestly, just repugnant with the hypocrisy and the lies and the denial.”
The model, now 43, retold her accounts from that evening 26 years ago, “I was frozen,” she explained. “I looked over at Brett and asked for help because I thought we were friends. It was a very confusing and terrifying moment.”
“I certainly froze, and I certainly did what I could to normalize what was an incredibly hard to process situation,” Khalighi added. “It took me years to process this experience.”