Sexual harassment and assault

Rap mogul Russell Simmons claims innocence after three women accuse him of rape

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 December, 2017, 3:19am
UPDATED : Friday, 15 December, 2017, 7:13am

At least three women said that they were raped by hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, who recently left his business empire following abuse allegations, The New York Times reported.

The 60-year-old hip-hop legend denied the rape accusations – which date back to 1988 – and voiced support for the growing movement of women speaking out against abusive men.

In an email statement on Thursday, he denied the accusations from the nine women reported on Wednesday by The New York Times and Los Angeles Times.

“These horrific accusations have shocked me to my core and all of my relations have been consensual,” Simmons said in the statement.

The current allegations, the statement added, “range from the patently untrue to the frivolous and hurtful. The presumption of innocent until proven guilty must not be replaced by ‘Guilty by Accusation.’”

Simmons announced on November 30 that he was stepping down from his business roles after two women accused him of assault, which he also denied.

But The New York Times article described an alleged pattern of behaviour by the enormously influential Def Jam Recordings co-founder, who was accused of preying on women entering the industry.

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Tina Baker, a singer who has performed backup for Madonna and Bruce Springsteen, said Simmons was her manager when he invited her to his flat in 1990 or 1991.

She told the newspaper that he pinned her down and raped her. The Times said the account was confirmed by four people close to her including her ex-husband and therapist.

“I didn’t have sex with a man for almost nine years,” Baker told the newspaper. “I went into a cocoon.”

Simmons said he never had sex with Baker. He said in a statement: “I vehemently deny all these allegations.”

“I have accepted that I can and should get dirt on my sleeves if it means witnessing the birth of a new consciousness about women,” he said.

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Unlike many in the brash world of hip-hop, Simmons in recent years has developed a clean, spiritual image as he promotes yoga and veganism.

But the newspaper also reported an incident in 2014 in which a woman said Simmons touched her inappropriately after encountering him in a Miami hotel.

Simmons and fellow producer Rick Rubin helped bring hip-hop to wide US audiences in the 1980s when they founded Def Jam, a label that signed major acts such as the Beastie Boys, LL Cool J and later Public Enemy.

Accusations of rape and sexual harassment against now-disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein have opened the floodgates, prompting scores of women to speak up about abuse in the entertainment and media industries as well as in politics.