It looks like Russell Simmons is in some legal hot water. A woman filed a civil lawsuit against the Def Jam recording co-founder Wednesday, claiming he raped her.
Aspiring filmmaker Jennifer Jarosik said that she first met Simmons in 2006 in New York City and that she trusted his “reputation as a spiritual conscious person.” Simmons reportedly promised to help her make a film.
In 2016, Simmons invited Jarosik to his home in Los Angeles. She alleged that he asked her for sex and that she said no. He reportedly became aggressive by pushing her onto his bed and “pounced on her while she was still in shock and fear, and proceeded to rape her.”
According to the lawsuit, Simmons “has historically thrived on the sexual exploitation of young women trying to break into the entertainment and music industry, in which young female artists are falsely promised opportunities and advancement by experienced and well-established men in power in the industry, with their careers in jeopardy if they resist the sexual overtures of these powerful men.”
Jarosik is seeking $5 million in damages.
Simmons was shocked when he found out about Jarosik’s allegations.
In a statement issued through publicist Eric Rose, Simmons said, “I have enormous respect for the women’s movement worldwide and their struggle for respect, dignity, equality and power. I am devastated by any reason I may have given to anyone to say or think of me in the ways that are currently being described.”
Simmons added that he won’t be held responsible for something he didn’t do. “Although I have been candid about how I have lived in books and interviews detailing my flaws, I will relentlessly fight against any untruthful character assassination that paints me as a man of violence,” he explained.
“It’s time that the hip hop industry face the music and recognize that the deep rooted history of misogyny and discrimination against women in the music industry has to come to an end,” said Jarosik’s lawyer, Perry C. Wander.
Simmons has been accused of sexual misconduct in the past. Just last November, screenwriter Jenny Lumet publicly accused him of sexually assaulting her in 1991 in The Hollywood Reporter. Several other women told The New York Times that Simmons raped them in the 1980s and 90s.
Simmons has denied all of these accusations, but he stepped down from his companies last month so as not to be a distraction.
Simmons and Rick Rubin founded Def Jam in 1984. The record label has made many hip-hop stars, including The Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, LL Cool J and Slick Rick.