2 weeks ago
Hip hop mogul Russell Simmons is accused of collaborating with scandal-scarred director and longtime pal Bret Ratner in the least professional of schemes.
On Sunday, The LA Times published an explosive interview with a former model who has come forward to allege the pair teamed up to sexually assault her in 1991, when she was just 17, luring her back to Simmons’s apartment under the pretense of giving her work in a music video.
“I looked over at Brett and said ‘help me’ and I’ll never forget the look on his face,” Keri Claussen Khalighi told The Times. “In that moment, the realization fell on me that they were in it together.”
Khalighi recounts Simmons, twice her age at the time, tried to force her into intercourse, and then coerced her into oral sex against her will.
In a statement, the now-60-year-old Simmons said, “everything that occurred between Keri and me occurred with her full consent and participation.” Ratner’s spokesperson, meanwhile, told the newspaper that his client doesn’t remember the incident so many years ago.
But the filmmaker has also been accused of sexual misconduct by a number of other women since a Nov. 1 report by The Times in which six women, including actresses Olivia Munn and Natasha Henstridge, revealed their horror stories involving Ratner.
The Rush Hour director, while denying all the accusations, is at the center of a rat pack of a different kind.
According to The Times:
“In several of the accounts, the women said that Ratner, 48, surrounded himself with powerful friends, including Simmons and filmmaker James Toback, who, while sharing Ratner’s playboy lifestyle, have also been accused of engaging in sexual misconduct. Those friendships, some women said, enabled inappropriate behavior within the group, sometimes by active participation and in other cases by simply providing venues for incidents to take place.”
Their shared obsession with women dates back decades. Simmons, the co-founder of Def Jam, first met Ratner in 1987 when the then-NYU film student would introduce the older music entrepreneur to models he knew.
And others have stepped forward to allege a pattern of predatory behavior involving the pair over the years.
Tanya Reid told The Times that in 1994 she had crossed their paths as an 18-year-old aspiring model working the front desk a hotel in South Beach.
The two men, guests at the hotel, repeatedly called the front desk asking to speak to Reid, according to her account. “I remember this very, very clearly, the exact words he said on the phone. He wanted me to come upstairs so Brett could hold me down and he could [perform oral sex],” Reid told The Times.
Ratner eventually procured her home phone number under the pretext of casting her in a music video. He later visited Reid at her apartment and coerced her into oral sex, she claims.
Reid, an 18-year-old virgin at the time, said was so disheartened by the traumatic experience that she quit her dream of modeling.