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Two of Russell Simmons’ accusers appeared on Megyn Kelly Today on Tuesday. The women, actress Natashia Williams-Blach and performer Sherri Hines, had recently come forward with sexual misconduct allegations against Simmons.
At least 12 women have accused the music mogul of sexual misconduct and assault, including five allegations of rape, since an initial mid-November Los Angeles Times report. Model Keri Claussen Khalighi had accused Simmons of sexual assault and harassment and later in the month, screenwriter Jenny Lumet wrote an essay for The Hollywood Reporter claiming Simmons assaulted her in his apartment in 1991 when she was 24 years old. Williams-Blach and Hines were two of the multiple women who later shared their stories with the L.A. Times and New York Times, respectively.
Though Simmons announced that he would be stepping down from his businesses, he has denied the allegations.
Williams-Blach, who met Simmons while working on a movie he produced, How to Be a Player, claims he attempted to force her to perform oral sex during a visit to his home in 1997 when she was 18. She says she got away by insisting she needed to get back to her dorm to do school work. “You realize you just escaped a minefield,” Williams-Blach, now 39, told NBC News host Megyn Kelly. “I went into an automatic, ‘You just gotta go. You got to get out.'”
Hines says she wasn’t as lucky. After meeting him, also at age 18, the singer claims Simmons pinned her down in his office and raped her around 1983. “It happened so fast that the next thing I know, my pants were down and he was having his way,” she said. “And then when he finished, I ran out of there and I left and I was crying and stood at the elevator for what felt like forever. I couldn’t believe I was just violated like that and more so I felt embarrassed, I felt used, worthless.”
As a member of the all-female hip-hop group Mercedes Ladies, Hines said their message, in a male-dominant rap field, had been about empowerment. “Russell knew,” she said. “Mercedes Ladies, we went up against an all-male arena. We came from single homes. He came to my home and he met my mom, who was a single mom that had 10 kids that she was raising. So for him to do this.”
Adding, “The way I felt at the time. I can’t believe this man just violated me like I was nothing.”
Williams-Blach, who claims she was attacked by Simmons after they had done yoga, says she was spurred to come forward after hearing his statement about the spiritual side of his life. In response to Lumet, Simmons had said he was stepping away from his empire to “commit myself to continuing my personal growth, spiritual learning and above all to listening” and that he would convert his Los Angeles yoga studio for into a not-for-profit center of learning and healing.
In later statements, he had said, in part, “I have already apologized for the instances of thoughtlessness in my consensual relations. I have separated myself from my businesses and charities in order to not become a distraction. I have re-dedicated myself to spiritual learning, healing and working on behalf of the communities to which I have devoted my life. I have accepted that I can and should get dirt on my sleeves if it means witnessing the birth of a new consciousness about women. What I will not accept is responsibility for what I have not done. I have conducted my life with a message of peace and love. Although I have been candid about how I have lived in books and interviews detailing my flaws, I will relentlessly fight against any untruthful character assassination that paints me as a man of violence.”
Hines says she has been contacted by the New York Police Department, which has opened an investigation into the assault claims against Simmons.
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