NEW YORK (CBSLA) — Former model Keri Claussen Khalighi has come forward alleging that Russell Simmons made non-consensual sexual advances against her when she was 17.
The allegations by Khalighi surfaced in the article published Sunday by the Los Angeles Times in which Khalighi says she had gone to dinner with Simmons and Brett Ratner in New York back in 1991.
After dinner, Khalighi says they went back to Simmons’ apartment, where she alleges he removed her clothes, according to the Times’ article.
Khalighi told the Times that she was coerced by Simmons into performing oral sex.
She also alleges that Ratner watched as it happened, according to the Times.
Simmons vehemently disputed the account in a statement released in response to the article.
In his statement, Simmons said in part:
“As a long-time social activist, I have applauded the strength of the brave men and women who have spoken out over the past month and made their voices heard regarding sexual assault and harassment. I am a supporter of the #MeToo campaign and the victims who were previously terrified to stand up and speak out against sexual misconduct. I completely and unequivocally deny the horrendous allegations of non-consensual sex against me with every fiber of my being.
Simmons also submitted three witness accounts to the Times, one of which was anonymous, and said “at no time while I was in the apartment on both days was anybody in distress or held against his or her free will.” The statement went on to say, “at some point I observed Keri and Russell going upstairs to Russell’s bedroom on that Saturday afternoon. I did not hear or observe anything unusual during the time that Russell and Keri were in the bedroom.”
A second witness statement submitted by a then-assistant to Simmons’ said that Anthony “Mac” McNair “did not notice any visible signs of distress or that anything improper had occurred” on the date in question.
A third witness statement was submitted by Simmons to the Times wherein the witness’ name was redacted also indicated that “at no time during the time that I spent with Russell and Keri that Saturday did I observe Keri appearing to be in distress or doing anything that appeared to be against her own free will.”
The accusations are the latest to surface in Hollywood since the Harvey Weinstein scandal.
“The last six weeks or so, in the entertainment industry have been a shocking time for many people,” said Daniel Miller of the LA Times. “For observers or people involved in the business.”
Miller and his colleagues broke the Simmons story.
The LA Times writer spoke to CBS2’s Crystal Cruz about the latest in a series of scandals to rock Hollywood.
“Hollywood, it’s sad to say,” said Miller, “has long been known for having a casting couch culture. This is a culture where men who are in power are said to try to get access to women who are trying to advance their careers. It’s part of the business. That’s no shock. But I think it’s fair to say that just the scale of this scandal is surprising.”
The LAPD says they are not actively investigating Simmons.