In 1995, Drew Dixon was working her dream job as an executive at Def Jam Recordings, helping to oversee a chart-topping album and a ubiquitous single by Method Man and Mary J. Blige. But as her star rose, Ms. Dixon, then 24, was spiraling into depression, she said, because of prolonged and aggressive sexual harassment by her direct supervisor, Russell Simmons, the rap mogul and co-founder of the label.
On work calls, he would talk graphically about how she aroused him. At a staff meeting, he asked her to sit on his lap. He regularly exposed his erect penis to her. Late that year, Mr. Simmons raped her in his downtown Manhattan apartment, Ms. Dixon said. She quit Def Jam soon after.
“I was broken,” she said.
In recent interviews, four women spoke on the record about a pattern of violent sexual behavior by Mr. Simmons, disclosing incidents from 1988 to 2014. Three of the women say that he raped them.
In each case, numerous friends and associates said they were told of the incidents at the time. The women said they were inspired to come forward in the aftermath of the accusations against Harvey Weinstein, as victims’ stories have been newly elevated and more often believed.
Told in detail about the rape accusations and other misconduct, Mr. Simmons, 60, said in a statement: “I vehemently deny all these allegations. These horrific accusations have shocked me to my core and all of my relations have been consensual.”
He added: “I have enormous respect for the women’s movement worldwide and their struggle for respect, dignity, equality and power.”[Read Russell Simmons’s Complete Statement]
Last month, Mr. Simmons — a forefather of hip-hop who went on to great success in fashion, media and more — apologized for being “thoughtless and insensitive” and announced he was stepping down from his companies after the screenwriter Jenny Lumet became the second woman to publicly accuse him of sexual assault at the time.
NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY & CULTURE | WASHINGTON, DC
The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture. It was established by Act of Congress in 2003, following decades of efforts to promote and highlight the contributions of African Americans. To date, the Museum has collected more than 36,000 artifacts and nearly 100,000 individuals have become charter members. The Museum opened to the public on September 24, 2016, as the 19th and newest museum of the Smithsonian Institution. (Website).