Russell Simmons, the music mogul who co-founded Def Jam Records, has stepped down from his companies after being accused of sexual misconduct.
Jenny Lumet has said he directed his driver to take her to his apartment after she’d said she wanted to go home, before they had sex, around 1991.
Simmons said her memory of that evening is “very different from mine”.
But he apologised for being “thoughtless and insensitive” in some relationships over the years.
In a statement, he said: “While I have never been violent, I have been thoughtless and insensitive in some of my relationships over many decades and I sincerely and humbly apologise.”
Feeling of ‘dread’
Lumet, a screenwriter who wrote Rachel Getting Married and The Mummy and is the daughter of film-maker Sidney Lumet, gave her account to The Hollywood Reporter.
She said she had known Simmons before he offered her a ride home one night.
When she gave his driver her address, she claims Simmons told his driver “no”. When she questioned his response and told the driver her address again, she said the mogul repeated the word “no” and the car doors locked.
The driver took the pair to Simmons’ apartment, she claims. Lumet recalled that she said she wanted to go home but felt “dread”.
“You didn’t punch me, drag me or verbally threaten me,” she wrote. “You used your size to manoeuvre me, quickly, into the elevator.”
‘Did what I was told’
Afraid of Simmons and his driver, she said she then “simply did what I was told” because she “desperately wanted to keep the situation from escalating”.
Simmons co-founded Def Jam with Rick Rubin in 1983, signing artists like LL Cool J, the Beastie Boys and Public Enemy. He has also co-produced films including 1996’s The Nutty Professor.
More recently, he has been chief executive of Rush Communications.
In response to Lumet’s account, he said: “I have been informed with great anguish of Jenny Lumet’s recollection about our night together in 1991.
“I know Jenny and her family and have seen her several times over the years since the evening she described.
“While her memory of that evening is very different from mine, it is now clear to me that her feelings of fear and intimidation are real.”
He added: “This is a time of great transition. The voices of the voiceless, those who have been hurt or shamed, deserve and need to be heard.
“As the corridors of power inevitably make way for a new generation, I don’t want to be a distraction so I am removing myself from the businesses that I founded.”
He added that he would “step aside and commit myself to continuing my personal growth, spiritual learning and above all to listening”.