Feb 16, 2024 2 min read

Russell Simmons sued for defamation over his response to allegations of sexual assault

Russell Simmons has been sued for defamation over comments he made last year regarding the allegations of sexual assault that have been made against him. Those comments were part “a concerted and malicious campaign” to discredit his accusers, a lawsuit claims

Russell Simmons sued for defamation over his response to allegations of sexual assault

Earlier this week a lawsuit was filed against Def Jam founder Russell Simmons under New York City's Gender Motivated Violence Act accusing him of rape. Simmons is now facing a second lawsuit from a former employee who also accuses him of sexual assault. However, this time it's a defamation lawsuit. The new case addresses responses he gave in an interview last year when discussing assault claims that have been made against him by former Def Jam A&R exec Drew Dixon.

When he was asked  in December about allegations of sexual assault from Dixon and others, Simmons said that rape "is a serious word" but "I think they’ve changed the meaning". He then suggested that the women who have formally accused him of assault had a "thirst for fame". 

The new defamation lawsuit claims, according to Rolling Stone, that Simmons “has gone on a concerted and malicious campaign to discredit Ms Dixon and to so damage her reputation. This defamation has exacerbated the paralysation of Ms Dixon professionally". 

Dixon, who worked at Def Jam in the early 1990s, first made allegations against Simmons to the New York Times in 2017. She said that she had to repeatedly fend off sexual advances from Simmons while she worked at the label. This escalated when, in 1995, he "pinned her to a bed in his apartment and sexually assaulted her". 

That allegation was repeated in a lawsuit filed by Dixon last year, although not a lawsuit targeting Simmons directly. In that lawsuit, which was filed under New York's Adult Survivors Act she accused another record industry executive, LA Reid, of sexual assault. The Adult Survivors Acts temporarily lifted the statute of limitation on lawsuits relating to historic sexual assaults. This meant that many people were able to bring proceedings that would previously have been rejected due to the amount of time that had passed since the events that were alleged to have taken place. 

When Dixon left Def Jam she went to work at the Arista label, where she worked for LA Reid. Her lawsuit filed last year stated that "there Reid, [despite being] aware of the first sexual assault at the hands of Russell Simmons, sexually harassed Ms Dixon and refused to allow her to succeed unless she acquiesced to his demand to be alone and in close proximity to her, where he would create the opportunity to sexually assault her on two separate occasions". 

More than 20 women have now made allegations of sexual misconduct against Simmons. Although he has apologised for being “thoughtless and insensitive" in the past, he has always denied any allegations of sexual assault. 

Dixon's defamation claim is the second lawsuit filed against Simmons this week. The other lawsuit, filed by an unnamed woman, seeks damages for an alleged sexual assault that occurred during her time working for Def Jam in the 1990s. 

Two previous lawsuits making similar allegations were filed in 2018. One was subsequently withdrawn and the other was dismissed because of the statute of limitations.

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