Russell Simmons accused of rape by book publisher W.W. Norton's granddaughter
Another woman has come forward with allegations that music mogul Russell Simmons sexually assaulted her.
Alexia Norton Jones, the granddaughter of book publisher William Warder Norton (a.k.a. W.W. Norton), told Variety in a series of interviews that Simmons, after going on a first date with Jones in November 1990, took her back to his apartment and raped her. Simmons has denied the allegation.
“It was such a fast attack,” Jones said. “It was literally an attack. Because he was overweight, I remember thinking it was like being attacked by a flabby walrus. I remember being pushed up against a wall. He pulled my dress up. I must have said no seven to 10 times, and then I acquiesced. It was very fast. I would say it happened in less than 10 minutes.”
Simmons denied the claim in a statement to Variety. “I’m deeply saddened by this story from Alexia,” he said. “At no time did she share these feelings about her first sexual encounter with me, which took place roughly 28 years ago. I have taken multiple lie detector tests that affirm I never sexually assaulted anyone. Alexia and I dated, were intimate and attended multiple events together after she alleges the incident occurred in 1990. I considered her a friend for all these years and continue to have a warm relationship with members of her family. I believe we last spoke in 2006 when she called to express her disappointment over the fact that I had not attended an event honoring her father.”
A representative for Simmons also relayed a statement to the trade from the hip-hop impresario’s driver, Kenneth L. Jennings, who has worked for Simmons since 1989. “I recall driving Mr. Simmons and Alexia Jones on about 10 to 12 dates in or about 1990,” Jennings said in the statement. “Their relationship lasted approximately five months.”
Jones told Variety she met Simmons through her first office job, at Inter City Broadcasting Corporation in the mid-1980s. They ran in the same social circles, and Jones said she “liked him” after Simmons pursued her. She also said he previously seemed “very nervous, fidgety, sweaty, hanging out with a couple brothers who had drug problems.”
“My mind went to, ‘Is he on something?’” she said of the alleged assault. “I also thought, ‘How could I be such an idiot?’ Here I am, I’m trusting him. I had been a survivor of sexual abuse as a young teenager.”
Jones said she didn’t tell anyone about the alleged incident “because we had the same friends,” though she later told her therapist. “This was my concern, to be honest with you: He didn’t use a condom,” she said. “I was worried I had exposed myself to a sexually transmitted disease. The other concern was pregnancy. I was freaked out.” She went on to say how “depressed” she became as Simmons continued to pursue her. “This is the worst message that it sends, that somebody could in a different circumstance like you but think you are worthless. And he can just take it from you. It’s like the murder of the soul.”
Jones filed a police report with the New York Police Department last spring, but her claim fell outside the statute of limitations in New York for felonies. She said she still wanted to speak out and stand with the other women who have come forward with claims against Simmons.
Former aspiring model Keri Claussen Khalighi told the Los Angeles Times last year that Simmons assaulted her in his apartment in 1991. The NYPD opened an investigation in December into at least 12 accusations of sexual misconduct against Simmons that spanned three decades. This past January also saw a lawsuit filed against Simmons — bringing the total at the time to 15 accusers — alleging varying degrees of sexual misconduct and sexual assault.
Simmons “vehemently” denied those accusations, according to a statement given to PEOPLE at the time.
“I have already apologized for the instances of thoughtlessness in my consensual relations,” Simmons said in part. “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.”
Read Jones’ full remarks at Variety.