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Drew Dixon, Sil Lai Abrams and Alexia Norton Jones — three women who have accused Russell Simmons of rape — spoke about their experiences with the music mogul in an interview with CBS News reporter Michelle Miller that aired Wednesday on CBS This Morning.
The trio detailed how Simmons allegedly raped them ahead of the premiere of a yet-to-be titled documentary that explores more of their stories and is set to debut later this year at the Sundance Film Festival.
“I hope that black women and girls become more visible as a result of this documentary,” said Dixon, who worked for Simmons in 1995 when she said he allegedly attacked her. “This is violently tackled and raped — while saying no and fighting and crying.”
She continued, “I literally worked for him. He was ordering me a car, and he told me to come upstairs and pick up a demo. I thought I would be in his apartment for five total minutes. That’s it. And he showed up naked, wearing a condom and tackled me to his bed, while I screamed and fought and said, ‘No,’ and cried. That’s rape.”
Abrams said that she dated Simmons on and off in the early 1990s. However, in 1994, when Simmons allegedly raped her, she said that their relationship was over. “He’ll say, ‘Yes, we had a sexual relationship,’ but he cannot address the fact that I was too drunk to consent, and that the next day I called him up, screaming. And I attempted suicide. He knew,” Abrams said. “And I told him why, that he had ruined my life, and that I had nothing.”
Jones — who told Miller that she knew Simmons before he was famous — said that he raped her on their first date in 1991.
“This was a very swift attack, and what was going through my mind more than anything was, ‘Why?’ Because I liked Russell. And I, you know, I would’ve just kissed him. I would’ve made out with him. I would’ve — he didn’t have to attack me,” she said. “He raped me right up against the fucking wall. Excuse my language. But he — that’s what he did. I had to keep this secret.”
Simmons has denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex.
Elsewhere in their interview, Dixon, Abrams and Jones explained how the myriad of sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein (who is currently in the midst of a criminal trial in New York) and the ensuing #MeToo movement inspired them to come forward with their stories.
“It felt like this portal opened suddenly, where women were being believed, and I wondered if that would apply to black women,” Dixon said. Though each of the women eventually filed police reports, Simmons faces no charges as the alleged crimes occurred decades ago, after the statute of limitations.
Dixon went on to explain why she was hesitant about going public with her accusations against Simmons — a powerful force in entertainment, fashion and hip-hop culture — who co-founded the Def Jam record label and launched several clothing lines such as Phat Farm and Argyleculture.
“Black people have very few heroes to spare. Not many of us get to the level of success of a Russell Simmons, which is why I was so proud of him,” Dixon said. “He is a media mogul. He has millions of followers. I have, like, a thousand. And he is using all of that muscle to try to drown out our voices.”
Dixon said that keeping her story to herself felt like she was “carrying a malignant cancer.” Now, with the documentary on the horizon, she feels “relieved to be done enabling him essentially by not telling people what he did.”
Oprah Winfrey was announced as an executive producer of the documentary in December. At the time, Simmons publicly questioned Winfrey’s involvement, writing on Instagram, “I have never been violent or forced myself on anyone.”
Winfrey stepped down from the project last week, citing creative differences with the filmmakers, Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering. Winfrey had planned to air it on Apple TV+ following its Sundance debut. “There is more work to be done on the film to illuminate the full scope of what the victims endured,” Winfrey said in part in a statement. “I want it to be known that I unequivocally believe and support the women.”
Watch Dixon, Abrams and Jones’ CBS News interview below.
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