Russell Simmons Sued by Drew Dixon for Alleging Sexual Assault Accusers Have “Thirst for Fame”

Russell Simmons has been sued for defaming the former Def Jam Recordings executive Drew Dixon, who accused him, in 2017, of sexual assault. The lawsuit cites a Graham Bensinger interview last December in which Simmons, who has denied assault allegations by Dixon and other women, suggested accusers might “want notoriety in the market where people thirst for fame.”

Dixon filed her lawsuit yesterday (February 15) in a New York state court. She alleges, in the lawsuit, that, in 1995, Simmons invited her to his home to listen to a demo CD, but proceeded to “violently rape her.” After leaving Def Jam for Arista Records, Dixon says L.A. Reid sexually assaulted her in 2001—a claim she pursued last November in a separate lawsuit.

The new lawsuit describes Dixon as “one of many women who while pursuing a career in the music industry was disrupted, derailed, and damaged for the rest of her life as a result of her horrible experiences at the hands of Mr. Simmons.” More than 20 women have accused Simmons of sexual harassment or assault, it adds.

Speaking out about the assaults has “put [Dixon] back in the crosshairs of her abusers’ sphere of influence,” according to the lawsuit. In the Graham Bensinger interview, Simmons claimed that only six people had leveled allegations, that accusers had “changed the meaning” of rape, and that all of his relationships were consensual. He also insinuated that “there was perhaps a collaboration” between accusers. The lawsuit argues that these claims “have the effect of communicating that Ms. Dixon was lying about Mr. Simmons being violent with Ms. Dixon,” damaging her reputation both in music and “as an activist advocate on behalf of victims of sex abuse and harassment in the music and entertainment industry.”

The lawsuit concludes, in part, “By casting aspersions on her credibility publicly among his powerful cohort of fellow moguls, Mr. Simmons has made it impossible for Ms. Dixon to make a living at a level commensurate with her experience, track record, and training. Her fears of ostracization and retribution when she was first assaulted have been fully realized.”

Dixon is requesting “punitive and exemplary damages,” as well as her costs associated with the lawsuit. In order to win, she will need to prove her case “by a preponderance of the evidence,” meaning that the fact in dispute is more likely than not.

In a statement shared with Pitchfork, one of Drew Dixon’s attorneys, Sigrid S. McCawley, said:

Ms. Dixon has taken enough abuse. Not only was she violently raped by Russell Simmons—profoundly disrupting her personal and professional life—but after she tried to move forward and heal, he then further abused her by publicly proclaiming that she lied about the rape in search of “fame.” Mr. Simmons has used his public platform to re-traumatize and terrorize Ms. Dixon, and the time has now come to hold him accountable for his defamatory statements and to end this cycle of abuse.

Pitchfork has also reached out to representatives for Russell Simmons for comment.


If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual assault, we encourage you to reach out for support:

RAINN National Sexual Assault Hotline
http://rainn.org
1 800 656 HOPE (4673)

Crisis Text Line
SMS: Text “HELLO” or “HOLA” to 741-741