CNN MONEY – Russell Simmons is stepping down from his companies in the wake of an accusation of harassment and sexual assault.
Simmons, the founder of hip-hop music label Def Jam Recordings and CEO of Rush Communications, released a statement on Thursday after screenwriter Jenny Lumet accused him of forcing her to have sex with him in 1991. She detailed the encounter in a guest column published by The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday.
“I have been informed with great anguish of Jenny Lumet’s recollection about our night together in 1991,” Simmons said in a statement. “I know Jenny and her family and have seen her several times over the years since the evening she described. 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. While I have never been violent, I have been thoughtless and insensitive in some of my relationships over many decades and I sincerely and humbly apologize.”
The statement continued: “This is a time of great transition. The voices of the voiceless, those who have been hurt or shamed, deserve and need to be heard. As the corridors of power inevitably make way for a new generation, I don’t want to be a distraction so I am removing myself from the businesses that I founded. The companies will now be run by a new and diverse generation of extraordinary executives who are moving the culture and consciousness forward. I will convert the studio for yogic science into a not-for-profit center of learning and healing. As for me, I will step aside and commit myself to continuing my personal growth, spiritual learning and above all to listening.”
In Lumet’s column she wrote that, “maybe recalling of this incident can be helpful” to other women who have spoken out against Simmons, but realizes there’s a lot at stake in coming forward with her story.
“There is so much guilt, and so much shame,” Lumet wrote. “There is an excruciating internal reckoning. As a woman of color, I cannot express how wrenching it is to write this about a successful man of color.”
HBO announced in a statement Thursday afternoon that they were dropping Simmons from an upcoming stand-up series, “All Def Comedy,” which he produced with the premium network. The series is set to premiere December 1.