Model Recalls 'Terrifying' Alleged Russell Simmons Sexual Assault - as Mogul Says He's 'Still Evolving'
A former model believes Russell Simmons and Brett Ratner were in on a plan to sexually assault her when she was just 17 years old
After Keri Claussen Khalighi accused the music producer of coming onto her as Ratner watched in a story published by the Los Angeles Times, she appeared on NBC News’ Megyn Kelly Today to tell her story.
Khalighi — who was an aspiring model at the time — said that one night in 1991, the men took her out to dinner and then afterward back to Simmons’ apartment. She said she thought they were going to watch a music video the two men had made.
“As the video was playing, Russell came over and started making advances and at the time, I thought it was a joke and it became increasingly apparent that it wasn’t a joke and he continued his advances,” Khalighi explained. “I looked over at Brett at that point for help, and I will never forget the look on his face. It was in that moment that I realized, I think this was their plan all along, there was no help that was going to come.”
She added, “My body was closed, I was frozen. I looked over at Brett and asked for help because I thought we were friends. It was a very confusing and terrifying moment.”
Khalighi also alleged that Simmons tried to force her to have intercourse with him, and after she protested, he coerced her to perform oral sex while Ratner “just sat there and watched.”
Afterwards, Khalighi claimed she took a shower and Simmons allegedly briefly penetrated her without her consent.
“Part of my story that I think is really important to talk about in this conversation that is happening nationally right now, with sex abuse coming out, after the oral sex part of the story, I stayed. I didn’t run out,” she said. “I stayed and I took a shower and an additional sexual assault happened there.”
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Khalighi also said that while Simmons, 60, has apologized to her in private, he has denied the accusations publicly. In a statement to the L.A. Times, Simmons claimed that everything that happened between him and Khalighi “occurred with her full consent and participation.” He then posted a lengthy statement on Facebook, writing in part, ” I completely and unequivocally deny the horrendous allegations of non-consensual sex against me with every fiber of my being.”
Khalighi responded on Today, saying, “Russell and I have actually had a face-to-face confrontation around this, we’ve had phone conversations, where we have 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,” she shared. “And part of what is so confusing and retraumatizing is what he is speaking about privately with me, is completely different than what has come out publicly. And that is the piece that’s been really, really upsetting, disappointing and quite honestly, just repugnant with hypocrisy and the lies and the denial.”
In a first-person piece for The Hollywood Reporter published Wednesday, Simmons refuted Khalighi’s claims once more.
“I … know from recent painful personal experience that some recollections can be cast in a light away from the actual facts,” he wrote. “In my case, three witnesses have signed statements that our experiences that weekend with Keri Claussen Khalighi 26 years ago were consensual. My longtime loathing of any form of violence and abuse has been woven into all of my personal interactions, as most who know me will attest. In our meeting many years later, and subsequent conversations, Keri never accused me of what she has said publicly. She insisted I was not violent. She did tell me her boyfriend and many others found out about our long weekend together and she said she was ashamed by that discovery. I am sorry for the embarrassment she recounted to me.”
He continued, “I have made choices that have offended some of the women in my life. It’s not cool to be a playboy and a new consciousness understands this. Now, as I hear these voices, I do as well. Though never abusive in any way, my remarks were often cavalier and thoughtless, and for this I am humbled. I am a work in progress. I am human. The fact that I come from the world of music or a specific place or generation justifies nothing. That has been an ongoing deep transition in my life. As a yogi I believe intent is very important. My intent always came from a joyful, playful place. I can sleep at night because I know who I am. And I know who I was. I never committed any acts of aggression or violence in my life. I would never knowingly cause fear or harm to anyone. For any women from my past who I may have offended, I sincerely apologize. I am still evolving.”
Terry Crews slammed Simmons after the news broke. He shared a screenshot of an email he allegedly received from Simmons about the Brooklyn Nine-Nine actor’s claims that he was sexually assaulted by agent Adam Venit. WME confirmed to ABC News that the agent “has been suspended following the internal investigation into the matter.”
In the message, Simmons allegedly urged Crews to “give the agent a pass [and] ask that he be reinstated.”
“Message Russell Simmons sent to me regarding my sexual assault case against Adam Venit of @WME,” Crews wrote alongside the image before adding: “Dear @UncleRUSH — NO ONE GETS A PASS.”
Earlier this month, Variety also reported that Simmons and Ratner had been investigated for sexual battery in 2001, although charges were never filed due to insufficient evidence.
In a statement to the outlet, Ratner’s attorney Martin Singer vehemently disputed the specific allegations made against Ratner and said “no woman has ever made a claim against him for sexual misconduct or sexual harassment. Furthermore, no woman has ever requested or received any financial settlement from my client.”
Since news of the allegations, Warner Bros. and Ratner have severed ties.