Russell Simmons #NotMe Campaign Never Really Took Off, NYPD Looks Into Rape Allegations

Written by Dana Sanchez

Russell Simmons is giving out mixed messages.

Accused of sexual misconduct including rape and attempted rape, the Def Jam co-founder and media entrepreneur stepped away from his companies in November. Simmons denied the misconduct accusations, but apologized for being “thoughtless and insensitive.” He said stepping aside would let him concentrate on his spiritual growth, including learning to listen.

Then on Dec. 14 Simmons went into defense mode, launching a #NotMe Instagram campaign that said he was committed to proving his innocence.

This coincided with the New York police saying they were looking into a flurry of allegations of sexual misconduct against Simmons, USAToday reported.

Russell Simmons
Russell Simmons Image: Variety

“The NYPD has received information regarding allegations involving Russell Simmons in the NYC area and our detectives are in the process of reviewing that information,” department spokeswoman Jocelyn Clarke said.

The NYPD investigation came as 10 new accusers stepped forward in various publications. Simmons unveiled his #NotMe campaign on Instagram:

“I will prove without any doubt that I am innocent of all rape charges,” he posted, calling out some of his accusers by name. “My intention is not to diminish the #MeToo movement in any way, but instead hold my accusers accountable. #NotMe Again, this is not a movement against or even in conjunction with #Metoo. It’s just a statement about my innocence.”

Now Simmons’ crusade to clear his name over sexual misconduct allegations has gone mysteriously quiet, and his representatives told Page Six that Simmons had instead decided “that this is a time for women to speak.”

TMZ reported that Simmons took a lie-detector test regarding an accusation by model Keri Claussen Khalighi, who accused him in the LA Times of rape. His lawyers claimed he passed the lie detector test “with flying colors.”

“That was the last we heard of his #NotMe campaign,” Page Six reported. “Since then Simmons has posted on Instagram three times, each time with an ‘inspirational’ quote. He hasn’t used the hashtag since, and there have been no further attempts to prove his innocence in the press.

“Asked about the silence, his reps told (Page Six) that Simmons felt that it was ‘a time for women to speak,’ adding, ‘Mr. Simmons’ previous statements stand, and he has nothing to add to [them] at this time.’ It was his #NotMe idea that prompted publicist and TV star Kelly Cutrone to tell Page Six last month that Simmons had tried to rape her in 1991. ‘The #NotMe thing? I’m going to do a #YeahYou. F – – k you,’ she told Page Six.’

Nine women made allegations against Simmons in two reports published by the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times on Dec. 13. Three of the women told the New York Times that Simmons raped them.

The two reports followed an open letter written by screenwriter Jenny Lumet in the Hollywood Reporter. She described a 1991 encounter with Simmons where she says he refused to take her to her apartment after offering her a ride home, and then forced himself on her, Vox reported.

Lumet’s letter followed a Los Angeles Times report published in November, in which Khalighi said that Simmons sexually assaulted her in 1991 when she was 17 and working as a model.

In his Instagram post, Simmons mentioned both Lumet and Claussen Khalighi by name.

Sex under conditions of inequality can look consensual when it is not wanted, according to Catharine A. MacKinnon, a lawyer and womens’ rights activist.

MacKinnon established the legal claim that sexual harassment is sex discrimination.

“Men in positions of power over women can secure sex that looks, even is, consensual without that sex ever being wanted, without it being freely chosen,” McKinnon wrote in a 2007 book, “Women’s Lives, Men’s Laws“. “Autonomy in sex cannot exist without equality of the sexes,” she wrote.

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About Dana Sanchez
Dana Sanchez was born in South Africa and is a U.S. citizen. After working in advertising, she went back to school and earned a master's degree in journalism from the University of South Florida. As a business writer, she won regional and national writing awards. As editor of a daily newspaper, she coordinated staff writers, freelancers and photographers in the fast-paced environment of daily news. Dana was an editor at Moguldom Media Group for four years, helping to build and manage a team of staff and freelance writers. She works now on for Nubail Ventures. A long-distance hiker and cyclist, she writes about the business of technology.