Def Jam founder and hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons is going on the defensive in the wake of two bombshell exposés from The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, both of which dropped last night. Across both articles, nine different women detail allegations against Simmons of sexual harassment, misconduct, and, in the case of four of those profiled, rape. These allegations follow previous claims of assault from Keri Claussen Khalighi and screenwriter Jenny Lumet.
Now, Simmons has deleted his Twitter account and taken to Instagram to state the case for his innocence. He writes:
“Today, I begin to properly defend myself. I will prove without any doubt that I am innocent of all rape charges. Today, I will focus on ‘The Original Sin’ (Keri Claussen), the claim that created this insane pile on of my #MeToo. Stay tuned! We’ll share information today… And tomorrow the case of Jenny Lumet. My intention is not to diminish the #MeToo movement in anyway, but instead hold my accusers accountable. #NotMe Again, this is not a movement against or even in conjunction with #Metoo . It’s just a statement about my innocence.”
Simmons has every right in the world to defend himself, but using the hashtag #NotMe to do so isn’t a good look when #MeToo has proven to be a means of empowerment for millions of women. Phrases like “stay tuned” and the exclamation point he puts after it are also pretty gross.
Simmons has maintained his innocence throughout the litany of accusations that have emerged over the last few months, though he has acknowledged that Lumet’s “feelings of fear and intimidation are real” and, after denying Claussen Khalighi’s account, apologized to “any women from my past who I may have offended.” In both reports last night, his tone took on a sharper, more aggressive tone.