Russell Simmons Accused of Sexual Assault in New Federal Lawsuit

Note: This article contains descriptions of alleged sexual assault.


In a newly filed lawsuit, a woman alleges that Russell Simmons sexually assaulted her in New York in the 1990s. The woman, identified as Jane Doe, currently lives in Los Angeles, and she says in her lawsuit that she is a film producer who previously “worked as a senior level music executive at Def Jam Recordings.” Doe filed her lawsuit today (February 13) in a New York federal court.

According to the lawsuit, obtained by Pitchfork, Doe was a music video producer in the early 1990s, working often on videos for Def Jam Recordings—the hip-hop label that Russell Simmons co-founded with Rick Rubin in 1984. She says “went in-house and worked for Def Jam” in the mid-1990s. At the label, she says, “she was responsible for supervising all film production and a demanding release schedule for a large artists roster.”

Doe claims that she and Simmons had a professional relationship when they first met and that the executive “was not flirtatious with her at all.” She also says that it was common practice to bring music videos to Simmons’ Manhattan apartment for review and that she did so “with no incident.” Eventually, according to the complaint, “Simmons suddenly began to turn his rapacious attention toward Ms. Doe,” allegedly “invading her personal space while making sexual innuendos, suggestions, and advances, and rubbing the front of his pants.”

According to the complaint, the alleged assault occurred on an occasion where “Ms. Doe brought to Mr. Simmons’s apartment a rough cut of a video she needed him to view for approval.” The executive, according to the lawsuit, “aggressively and relentlessly flirted with Ms. Doe, made sexual innuendos and advances, asked sexually explicit questions, including personal questions about her sexual preferences and questioning if she was currently wearing a bra.”

Simmons allegedly brought Doe to his bedroom to watch the rough cut of the music video and he asked Doe to have sex; she rejected his advances. “All of a sudden,” according to the complaint, “Mr. Simmons performed a ‘wrestling move,’ climbing on top of Ms. Doe and pinning her arms down on the bed.” Simmons allegedly persisted in asking Doe to have sex, and she repeatedly rejected him. “Simmons ignored Ms. Doe’s resistance and proceeded to rape her,” according to the complaint.

Doe says that, following the alleged assault, she “quit Def Jam in 1997 and worked as an executive producer for film and commercial production companies.” She also claims that, as a result of the alleged assault, she “struggled in her relationships with employers” and “became overwhelmed with anxiety.” In addition, she says she left New York and moved to California. “After the assault, she became a completely different person,” the lawsuit states.