The NYT's Russell Simmons rape expose is a nightmare

So many Pervnado stories to blog, so few hours in the day. Do I cover the “rape room” at The Spotted Pig restaurant co-owned by Mario Batali? Hit the Tavis Smiley suspension at PBS, replete with fears that “employment status was linked to the status of a sexual relationship with Smiley”? I’m writing this at 6:30 ET and, at the rate we’re going, there may be more bombshells to burst before this post goes live at 10.

But if there are, they won’t be any bigger or more horrifying than this detonation of Russell Simmons’s career. Simmons has already been accused of misconduct by two women, model Keri Claussen Khaligi and screenwriter Jenny Lumet. But unlike most of the Pervnado suspects, he isn’t charged with harassment or groping or exposing himself. He’s charged with full-on felonious forcible rape, ignoring women’s attempts to resist and having his way with them. The Times has three more women on the record now, under their own names and with multiple acquaintances in each case who corroborate that they heard from the alleged victim many years ago that Simmons had raped them.

This guy writes self-help books now and calls himself a “Christian yogi.”

[I]n the fall of 1988, Mr. Simmons invited [music journalist Toni Sallie] to his Manhattan apartment for a party he said he was hosting for his girlfriend. When Ms. Sallie arrived, the place was empty except for Mr. Simmons, she recalled. Saying he wanted to show her the apartment, Mr. Simmons led her to his bedroom.

“He pushed me on the bed and jumped on top of me, and physically attacked me,” she said. “We were fighting. I said no.” He raped her, she said.

Same thing happened a few years later to Tina Baker, an aspiring singer at the time who went on to become a lawyer:

One night in late 1990 or early 1991, she ran into Mr. Simmons at a club, and he invited her back to his apartment to discuss her career. “I didn’t think anything of going,” Ms. Baker said, having been there many times without incident.

This time, though, “it all got really ugly, pretty fast,” Ms. Baker said. As soon as they entered, Mr. Simmons started pouring drinks and trying to kiss her, leading to a scuffle, she said. She recalled “him on top of me, pushing me down and him saying, ‘Don’t fight me,’” Ms. Baker said. She was pinned on the bed. “I did nothing, I shut my eyes and waited for it to end.”

A third woman, Drew Dixon, was a star talent scout for Def Jam. She told the Times that she ran into Simmons one night while leaving a bar near his home and he offered to order her a car, inviting her into his apartment to wait. Then he moved on her and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Dixon says she was so traumatized that she blacked out while he had her pinned to the bed, waking up later in a hot tub with Simmons. She left Def Jam and moved to Arista Records — where, she says, she was soon being sexually harassed by the boss there. A few years later she gave up, quit the industry, and went to business school, not wanting to be raped or pawed at anymore.

That’s not even the extent of the Times story. There’s a report of another assault that fell short of rape and accusations of one woman having to suffer Simmons exposing himself in her office so often that she gave a key to a co-worker so that he could enter the room to interrupt whenever she buzzed him. Simmons denies pretty much everything. No one’s going to touch Weinstein for the sheer comprehensiveness of his alleged awfulness — assault, bribes, intimidation, spying, a criminal enterprise unto himself — but Simmons is giving him a run for his money. There are common threads between them. Both grew up blue-collar; both built companies that became trendsetters in their industries; both evolved into hugely successful moguls with a variety of entertainment businesses under their control; and both, allegedly, are into rape. Lots of it.

Oh, and both are very, very woke.

Read the entire piece as it’s probably the single most repulsive Pervnado account since the original round of Weinstein reporting. Offhand I’m not sure anyone accused over the last few months was as powerful in his profession as Simmons was, with the possible exception of Weinstein himself. (Maybe John Lasseter?) It’s easy to understand why women abused by Simmons wouldn’t speak out: Who would dare make trouble for the king of Def Jam, especially given the music industry’s reputation for easy sex to begin with? All Simmons had to say was “They were groupies.” And that’s basically what he did say. Everything was consensual; somehow five different women got it into their heads that they were resisting when they really weren’t.

Exit question: Am I right that, after two months of daily reporting about sexual assaults by famous men as well as allegations about serial predation by the likes of Simmons and Weinstein, not a single indictment has been issued against a Pervnado all-star?

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David Strom 8:31 PM on November 29, 2022