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Brett Ratner and Russell Simmons Accused of Working Together to Carry Out Sexual Misconduct

Brett Ratner and Russell Simmons have been accused of working together to assault and harass women, according to a new report in the Los Angeles Times.

The Times had previously reported that six women, including actresses Olivia Munn and Natasha Henstridge, had come forward with allegations of misconduct against Ratner, and the new report alleges that Simmons, his mentor, has worked with the director and producer to carry out inappropriate behavior.

Keri Claussen Khalighi, a then-17-year-old model, alleged that she met Ratner — who was a music video director at the time — and Simmons in 1991 at a casting call. After dinner one night, the pair took her back to Simmon’s apartment to ostensibly look at a music video.

According to Khalighi, Simmons began to make aggressive sexual advances towards her, tearing off her clothes.

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

She alleges that Simmons then tried to force her to have intercourse, which she fought off until he relented and coerced her into performing oral sex. Khalighi told the Times that Ratner sat and watched. Afterwards, while taking a shower, Khalighi said that Simmons approached her from behind and briefly penetrated her without her consent. “It hurt so much,” she said.

In a statement, Simmons “completely and unequivocally” denied her account, stating that “abusing women in any way shape or form violates the very core of [his] being.”

“Everything that happened between us 26 years ago was completely consensual and with Keri’s full participation,” Simmons said. “We spent time in my apartment over a period of two days and one night, as well as at some public places including Nell’s Nightclub. Much of the time we were in the presence of other acquaintances. I’m deeply saddened and truly shocked to learn of Keri’s assertions as to what happened over the course of that weekend.” Ratner’s attorney told the Times that Ratner has “no recollection” of Khalighi asking for his help.

Four other women also came forward to the Times with reports against Ratner after the paper’s initial report, and Khalighi’s account is not the first time Ratner and Simmons have been accused of colluding to assault women. In 2001, a woman told Beverly Hills police that she had been held against her will at Ratner’s mansion “by two males who both unlawfully touched her.” In a statement to Variety, Simmons denied that the incident the woman described occurred, stating that when in a position of power, “you are vulnerable and susceptible to claims that are untrue.”

A second woman, Tanya Reid, also claimed that Simmons and Ratner acted together in the Times’ new report, claiming that she encountered the pair in 1994 at a hotel in Miami, where she’d moved to try and become a model. She was working the front desk at the hotel at the time, and she alleges that Simmons asked her to personally deliver a toothbrush to her, and he told her that he “wanted [her] to come upstairs so Brett could hold [her] down and he could [perform oral sex].”

Reid continued that Ratner invited her up to his room, where he asked if she wanted to be a music video and the two exchanged contact information. A few days later, he stopped by her apartment. Reid alleges that as soon as they sat down on the sofa, he exposed himself, put her hand on his crotch, and asked for oral sex.

Reid said that she requested they only kiss, as she was an 18-year-old virgin, but he forced her head down towards his groin. She said she eventually gave in and that Ratner left immediately after.

Simmons said in a statement, “I mean no disrespect to her at all when I say I honestly do not recall my telephone conversation with a hotel front desk clerk from over a quarter-century ago.”

Reid’s roommate confirmed to the Times that Reid recounted the alleged incident at the time of the encounter.

Ratner’s representation did not immediately respond to Variety‘s request for comment.

Read Simmons’ statement in full below.

As a long-time social activist, I have applauded the strength of the brave men and women who have spoken out over the past month and made their voices heard regarding sexual assault and harassment. I am a supporter of the #MeToo campaign and the victims who were previously terrified to stand up and speak out against sexual misconduct. I completely and unequivocally deny the horrendous allegations of non-consensual sex against me with every fiber of my being.

I know Keri Claussen Khalighi and remember the weekend in 1991 that she has referenced. Everything that happened between us 26 years ago was completely consensual and with Keri’s full participation. We spent time in my apartment over a period of two days and one night, as well as at some public places including Nell’s Nightclub. Much of the time we were in the presence of other acquaintances. I’m deeply saddened and truly shocked to learn of Keri’s assertions as to what happened over the course of that weekend.

Let me be crystal clear and very direct. Abusing women in any way shape or form violates the very core of my being. I have always spoken out regarding my life experiences, women’s issues and the need to bring a faster and more decisive shift in the collective consciousness that will help bring about true women’s equality.  More than anything, I want my daughters to live in a more equal world and a world where they will not become victims of sexual harassment.

The LA Times article also references an allegation by Ms. Tanya Reid. I mean no disrespect to her at all when I say I honestly do not recall my telephone conversation with a hotel front desk clerk from over a quarter-century ago.

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