A model says Russell Simmons sexually assaulted her in a shower when she was 17 after the music executive forced her to perform a sex act on him in his apartment.
Keri Claussen Khalighi says her terrifying ordeal in 1991 began after she ate dinner with the head of Def Jam Recordings at Mr. Chow in Manhattan.
Simmons invited her back to his apartment to show her a music video he was putting together with entertainment mogul Brett Ratner, who was then a budding music director, Khalighi says.
In a harrowing account, the model says Simmons then sexually assaulted her in a shower after forcing her to perform oral sex — as Ratner looked on.
“I looked over at Brett and said ‘Help me’ and I’ll never forget the look on his face,” she told the Los Angeles Times. “In that moment, the realization fell on me that they were in it together.”
At first, Khalighi said Simmons, who was close to twice her age, tried to force her to have sex as he violently pulled off her clothes.
“I fought wildly,” she recalled.
Simmons then pressured her to perform oral sex, she charges.
“I guess I just acquiesced,” she said.
Feeling “disgusting,” Khalighi went to take a shower, where she says Simmons jumped in beside her and penetrated her without her consent, forcing her to turn away quickly, signaling for the recording mogul to leave.
“It hurt so much,” Khalighi recalled.
The model — who met Ratner and Simmons at a casting call — says she told three friends about the attack.
Keri Claussen Khalighi attends Victoria’s Secret Fall Lingere Collection Fashion Show in 1995 in New York City.
Last year, Khalighi, now 43, says she ran into Simmons at the SoHo House in West Hollywood. There, he “poured his heart out in a really touching, remorseful apology,” and gave her his phone number, she told the LA Times.
They also spoke on the phone after allegations of Ratner’s alleged misconduct surfaced on Nov. 1. She says Simmons did not deny any of her claims during their 27-minute conversation, a review of her phone records shows.
Khalighi also ran into Ratner in Los Angeles 15 years after the alleged attack. She said he, too, apologized for that evening in 1991.
“He listened and he un-defensively acknowledged the truth of what had happened,” Khalighi said. “He said he was young and stupid and blinded by Russell’s sway over him.”
Simmons, 60, denies the allegations, saying everything happened “with her full consent and participation.” He also said that most of their time together was spent in the company of others, including Simmons’ ex assistant, Anthony (Mac) McNair, who said he witnessed Khalighi go to Simmons’ bedroom “on her own volition and without any coercion or undue influence.”
Keri Claussen Khalighi said that Simmons tried to force her to have intercourse with him and that she “fought wildly” until he relented and pressured her into oral sex.
McNair also told the LA Times that the group went out to a nightclub later that evening, and that he saw Khalighi at Simmons’ house the next day. There, she did not show “any visible signs of distress or that anything improper had occurred,” McNair said.
Khalighi says she never saw McNair at the apartment and did not remember going back to Simmons’ apartment the next day.
Ratner says he has “no recollection” of Khalighi pleading for help or seeing her “protest,” his lawyer, Martin Singer, said to the newspaper.
Khalighi, now 38 weeks pregnant, told the LA Times that the public denials “implies that the women who come forward are liars.”
“So I’m coming out because what I’ve experienced privately is not matching what they are saying publicly, and hypocrisy to me is repugnant and it’s time for the truth to come out,” she said.
Hollywood stars accused of sexual harassment and assault
Simmons and Ratner have faced multiple accusations of sexual misconduct, including a 2001 incident when a woman told police in Beverly Hills that she was held against her will at Ratner’s home “by two males who both unlawfully touched her,” Beverly Hills Lt. Elisabeth Albanese told the LA Times.
On Sunday, a former South Beach hotel clerk also accused Ratner and Simmons of inappropriate behavior in 1994, the LA Times reported. Tanya Reid, an aspiring model working as a clerk, said Simmons tried to get her to come up to his room “so Brett could hold me down and he could (perform oral sex)” on her.
On a later day, Ratner invited her to his room where he exposed himself to her and pushed her head down to his groin until she gave in and performed oral sex on him, Reid alleges.
Ratner has denied sexual harassment claims made against him by six women, including actress Olivia Munn.