A former music video producer sued Russell Simmons on Tuesday, alleging that he raped her when she worked for Def Jam Recordings in the late 1990s.
The woman, identified in the complaint as Jane Doe, alleges that she went to Simmons’ Manhattan apartment to get his approval for a rough cut of a video. While there, she alleges that he made a “wrestling move,” pinned her down on his bed, and proceeded to rape her.
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“Ms. Doe rejected his advance and told him to ‘get off’ and ‘stop’ several times,” the lawsuit states. “She told him she was ‘serious’ and she ‘meant it.’ But Ms. Doe was forcefully pinned, could not move under his weight and Mr. Simmons would not listen to her.”
Simmons was one of many powerful men accused of sexual assault in 2017. After multiple women came forward with allegations against him, he was forced to step down from his roles at Def Jam and at his yoga lifestyle brand. A 2020 documentary, “On the Record,” detailed the allegations of several accusers.
According to the lawsuit, Jane Doe saw a familiar pattern.
“When Ms. Doe learned about the accounts of the other survivors, she was struck by how similar they were to her own horrible experience at the hands of Mr. Simmons,” the complaint states.
The suit alleges that leading up to the assault, Simmons would also sexually harass the plaintiff in her office at work, shutting the door behind him, leaning over her and making sexual innuendos.
The plaintiff’s attorneys, Kenya Davis and Sigrid McCawley, said Tuesday that their client’s career was on the upswing before the assault.
“She was proud of her contributions to the burgeoning musical genre of hip hop, but her hard work and her career in music was disrupted and derailed by Mr. Simmons, a rich and powerful celebrity whose wealth and influence allowed his abusive behavior to go unchallenged for decades,” they said. “Now a successful writer and producer in the entertainment industry, Jane Doe’s traumatic experiences with Simmons echo those of so many other women who he has preyed upon for decades.”
The suit alleges that she was “forever changed” by the assault, that she suffered from dissociation, depression and anxiety, and that she turned in her notice at Def Jam shortly afterward.
She also suffered panic attacks and developed an eating disorder, and had difficulty dealing with heightened emotions in work settings. She left three jobs at production companies over a two-year period, according to the complaint.
In March 2023, she went to a yoga class and inadvertently found herself next to Simmons. According to the suit, she was startled when he said her name, and she asked if it was OK to practice next to him. He responded: “Of course. What, do you think I’m gonna try and fuck you?” the lawsuit states.
“Ms. Doe was horrified,” the complaint continues. “She realized not only was he unapologetic towards her personally, he did not appreciate that the assault was wrong.”
The lawsuit was filed under New York’s Adult Survivors Act and the New York City Gender Motivated Violence Act, both of which adopted temporary “lookback windows” to revive suits that otherwise would be outside the statute of limitations.
Jennifer Jarosik filed a rape lawsuit against Simmons in federal court in January 2018. That complaint was dropped a few months later. Another accuser, identified only as Jane Doe, sued Simmons in state court in Los Angeles in March 2018. A judge threw that case out in 2020 because the allegation was barred by the state of limitations.
Simmons has apologized for being “thoughtless and insensitive,” but has said he was never violent. In a podcast interview last year, Simmons acknowledged being in “compromising situations,” but said he had taken and passed nine lie detector tests dealing with the allegations of violent conduct.
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