Russell Simmons and Brett Ratner accused of conspiring to commit sexual assault

A new article from the Los Angeles Times traces the relationship between Simmons and his one-time protégé Ratner


    A new article published by the Los Angeles Times on Sunday accuses hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons and film director Brett Ratner of conspiring to engage in sexual misconduct.

    Earlier this month, it was revealed that Simmons and Ratner had been investigated for an alleged sexual battery incident in 2001. The report came on the heels of a separate LA Times article in which six women — including actresses Olivia Munn, Natasha Henstridge, and Jaime Ray Newman — accused Ratner of sexual misconduct.

    Today’s article in the Times specifically traces the relationship between Simmons and his one-time protégé Ratner. Simmons is best known as the co-founder of Def Jam Records, responsible for establishing the careers of Public Enemy, Beastie Boys, and LL Cool J, among others. Ratner got his start working for Simmons as a music video producer in the early 1990’s. It was during this time, according to the Times, that the two men conspired to commit sexual misconduct.


    One such incident took place in 1991 involving Keri Claussen Khaligh, then a 17-year-old fashion model. Khaligh said Simmons forced her to have oral and sexual intercourse as Ratner “just sat there and watched.”

    “I looked over at Brett and said ‘help me’ and I’ll never forget the look on his face,” she recalled. “In that moment, the realization fell on me that they were in it together.”

    (Read: A Running List of All the Dudes Accused of Sexual Misconduct Since Harvey Weinstein)

    Khaligh told the Times she ran into Simmons in Los Angeles last year. She said he “poured his heart out in a really touching, remorseful apology” for the incident. Last month, she again spoke to him, this time in the wake of the Times’ article about Ratner. When she told him she was considering sharing her story and urged him to disclose his transgressions, she said Simmons again apologized and mentioned that he was the father of two children. When she asked specifically about a police investigation into his and Ratner’s alleged sexual battery, Simmons texted her saying the claims were “untrue.” He said the woman who filed the report “has made a fortune on this racket” and added, “I’m really in very scary space if u have time.”


    When she reached out to Ratner, “he listened and he un-defensively acknowledged the truth of what had happened,” Khalighi recalled. “He said he was young and stupid and blinded by Russell’s sway over him.”

    In a statement provided to the Times, Simmons said his relationship with Khaligh was consensual. “Everything that occurred between Keri and me occurred with her full consent and participation,” he said. His attorney, Brad D. Rose, said Simmons apologized to Khaligh in the “context for the embarrassment and upheaval the weekend caused her” related to her “infidelity.”

    Meanwhile, through his attorney, Ratner said he had “no recollection” of Khalighi asking him for help.


    Over the course of its investigation, the Times found four other women who say they were victims of Ratner’s sexual misconduct. One woman named Tanya Reid was an 18-year-old virgin when Ratner allegedly offered her a role in a music video in exchange for sexual favors. An actress named Jaymee Ong says she was invited to a private house party at Ratner’s Beverly Hills home. During the party, Ratner sought sex from Ong. When she refused, he masturbated and then ejaculated in front of her, she alleged. At another one of Ratner’s house parties, a woman named Brittny McCarthy said director James Toback made unwanted sexual advances. Similar to the hundreds of other women who have accused Toback of sexual misconduct, McCarthy specifically recalls an incident in which Toback humped her leg until he ejaculated.

    You can read the full article here.

    Ratner is known for directing films such as Rush HourX-Men: The Last Stand, and Tower Heist. Following the initial allegations of misconduct, Warner Bros. severed its working relationship with Ratner. Additionally, Playboy pulled the plug on a Hugh Hefner biopic he was working on.

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