Music and media impresario Russell Simmons got pounded by The Root’s Michael Harriot on Friday for Simmons’ vaguely-worded denial of rape allegations leveled against him by model Keri Claussen Khalighi.
Harriot summed up Simmons’ denial as, “I do yoga. I’m a vegan. I don’t know why it’s relevant, but I think it is.”
Simmons — who has in recent years become a vocal advocate for veganism and yoga — issued a denial of Khalighi’s accusation that he attempted to rape her at his home in 1991 when she was 17. Simmons’ statement was littered with new age-isms and metaphysical language but — as Harriot noted — short on facts.
“Khalighi accused Simmons of trying to physically force her to have intercourse with him as she fought wildly and movie producer Brett Rasner just watched. Khalighi said Simmons eventually gave up and coerced her into performing oral sex,” wrote Harriot.
He continued, “On Wednesday, the Hollywood Reporter published a letter written by Simmons explaining his side of the story. The letter is a jumbled mess of new-age gobbledygook so we ran it through The Root’s proprietary technology, the Blacktalk Translatortron 3000, to decipher it for our audience.”
“Humanity is going through a powerful and wrenching shift of consciousness that I believe will ultimately lead to a mass awakening in all humankind,” wrote Simmons.
Harriot said this translates to, “I want to begin by saying something totally irrelevant to this incident, but it makes me sound like a barefoot guru so that you’ll know where I stand.”
Simmons said, “Like all lasting change, this transition is filled with painful disruption and confrontation against an entrenched system. It may sound odd to some that I am encouraged about this time in our history, but I am,” which Harriot translated to, “I would like to invoke my right to blame my heinous activity on ‘the system.’ Y’all know how ‘the system’ is… I shouldn’t have to explain, so I won’t.”
Simmons pointed to the plethora of stories in each day’s news about powerful men being accused of sexually harassing, abusing and assaulting women.
“I do not doubt that the vast majority of the allegations these brave survivors are sharing are true and dignified. I see their stories giving a voice to the voiceless, which has been the central theme of my life’s journey,” he wrote.
Harriot said that what this means is, “You’ve heard a lot of allegations lately about rapey men taking advantage of women. I wholeheartedly support these women. Now allow me to explain why I don’t support this particular allegation (spoiler alert: mostly because this allegation affects me.)”
As Simmons went on and on, Harriot became less patient with the Def Jam Records and Rush Media founder and his bizarre insistence that Khalighi is making her accusations out of “embarrassment.”
“She told her boyfriend about the one time, years ago, that she gave me oral sex,” Harriot wrote. “That incident doesn’t stick out in her mind because it was a painful, traumatic experience. She probably just brought it up because she was embarrassed. I’m sure you bring up embarrassing things that happened years ago to your boyfriend all the time.”
Simmons touted his recent life turnaround and said, “I am a work in progress. I am human. The fact that I come from the world of music or a specific place or generation justifies nothing.”
“I’m not like that anymore,” mocked Harriot. “Why y’all always bringing up old shit?”