×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Police Probed Brett Ratner and Russell Simmons for Alleged Sexual Battery in 2001 (EXCLUSIVE)

UPDATED WITH SIMMONS STATEMENT: The Beverly Hills Police Department investigated producers Brett Ratner and Russell Simmons for alleged sexual battery in 2001, according to the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office and the producers’ criminal defense attorney.

Prosecutors declined to press charges in the case, citing insufficient evidence.

The alleged victim has not been identified. According to police records, the 29-year-old woman came into the department to file a report at 4:45 a.m. on the morning of Nov. 3, 2001. She alleged that two men held her against her will and that both touched her unlawfully, according to police.

She contended that the incident occurred between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. that morning at a home in the 1200 block of Benedict Canyon Drive. Ratner’s home, known as Hilhaven Lodge, is on the same block. At the time of the incident, Ratner was coming off the biggest hit of his career with “Rush Hour 2.”

Simmons has responded, saying, “This is an important and critical time for the empowerment of women and men who have been harassed. I have been a public figure for all of my adult life. And when you are in that arena over decades, you can find yourself in a position where you are vulnerable and susceptible to claims that are untrue.”

Def Jam Recordings co-founder Simmons has produced films including “The Nutty Professor.”

Last week, Warner Bros., which has a $450 million film co-financing deal with Ratner’s RatPac Entertainment, forced Ratner to vacate his office on the studio’s Burbank lot after the L.A. Times reported that six women had accused him of sexual misconduct.

The 2001 incident underscores the obstacles facing women who report claims of sexual battery against celebrities with high-powered attorneys.

Melanie Kohler, who Ratner is suing over her allegation that he raped her at producer Robert Evans’ home in Beverly Hills, was asked in an ABC News interview on Wednesday why she did not report the allegation to local police. “It just felt like there was nothing that I could do. I didn’t think the police could help me,” she said. “I didn’t know if anyone would be willing to go up against someone so powerful.”

When first asked about the 2001 Beverly Hills incident, Ratner’s civil attorney Marty Singer strongly disputed that an investigation occurred and threatened to sue Variety. He later said that the incident involved another person, whom he did not name, and said that Ratner was not implicated.

Ratner’s criminal attorney, Harland Braun, later confirmed that Simmons and Ratner were investigated, and said that both cooperated with police. Braun said that police told him that the alleged victim, who was a model, had made accusations against other celebrities. Braun argued that undermined her credibility.

“It wasn’t rape or anything. It was sexual battery,” Braun said. “This is not her first rodeo… I don’t think there’s anything here. This is a girl that had such a checkered history.” Braun summarized Ratner and Simmons’ account of the incident as follows: “We know her. She came to our house. Nothing happened. She’s making up a story.”

According to an internal D.A. database, the case was investigated as a misdemeanor sexual battery involving masturbation, D.A. spokesman Ricardo Santiago said.

Retired Beverly Hills Det. Les Zoeller investigated the case, according to Santiago. Police records indicate that the investigation began on Nov. 5, 2001, and at the conclusion the case was presented to the D.A. for possible charges. Zoeller, who is best known as the lead investigator in the Menendez brothers murder case, told Variety he has no recollection of the investigation. “I don’t have anything to say, I’m sorry,” he said.

The D.A.’s office decided not to file charges against Ratner and Simmons on Jan. 4, 2002. In such cases, the D.A.’s office typically issues a letter explaining its decision. However, letters from that period have since been destroyed, according to the D.A.’s office.

Braun, who also represents director Roman Polanski in his efforts to resolve his 40-year-0ld rape case, said he was concerned about a “hysteria” about sexual misconduct allegations in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. He compared the current atmosphere to the climate during the McMartin preschool scandal in the 1980s, which involved allegations of child abuse that proved unfounded.

More Music

  • Bebe Rexha

    Bebe Rexha Drops New Single, 'Last Hurrah' (Listen)

    Bebe Rexha is back with her first single of 2019 — “Last Hurrah.” The Andrew Wells-produced track is Rexha’s first solo single since 2018’s “I’m a Mess,” which appeared on her debut album “Expectations” alongside the Grammy nominated “Meant to Be.” Inspired by some chocolate cake and a story about her friend, Rexha says the single [...]

  • Jussie SmollettFOX 'Empire' TV show panel,

    Jussie Smollett Case: Chicago Police Arrest Two Suspects

    Chicago police confirmed on Friday that they have arrested two suspects in the case of “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett. The police did not state what charges the men are being held on. Local media have identified the men as two brothers from Nigeria, though law enforcement has not confirmed their identities. Smollett’s representatives have declined [...]

  • R. Kelly

    R. Kelly Could Be in ‘Big Trouble’ Over Alleged New Sex Tape, Attorney Says

    Strong allegations of sexual misconduct have followed R. Kelly for 25 years, but the singer has always managed to slip free. Yet reports that a videotape of him sexually assaulting an underage girl, combined with the outcry surrounding the Lifetime documentary “Surviving R. Kelly,” means that public sentiment, at the very least, is definitely not [...]

  • Cardi B Drops New Single With

    Cardi B Drops New Single With Bruno Mars, ‘Please Me’ (Listen)

    In the wee hours of Friday morning, Cardi B has released her first new song of 2019: “Please Me,” a collaboration with Bruno Mars. The pair have worked together in the past, most notably on last year’s remix of Mars’ “Finesse” — which the pair performed on the 2018 Grammy Awards — and Cardi was [...]

  • Wu-Tang ClanWu-Tang Clan in concert, Brooklyn

    The Secret History of Wu-Tang Clan's Bizarre Hip-Hop Fighting Game

    The history of video games is littered with great ideas that were canceled before their time, drained of resources and put out to pasture because of budget or production woes. That said, there are vanishingly few games that made it all the way through the trials and tribulations of a multi-year development cycle only to [...]

  • Gimlet Media Podcasting

    Spotify Paid Nearly $340 Million to Buy Podcast Startups Gimlet and Anchor

    Streaming-audio giant Spotify shelled out around €300 million, or about $337 million, to buy podcasting companies — producer Gimlet Media and services provider Anchor FM Inc., the company said. The deals for Gimlet and Anchor, announced last week, were primarily in cash, with the total purchase prices subject to closing adjustments, Spotify disclosed the figure in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content