Music mogul Russell Simmons has apologised for the "embarrassment" and shame caused by his sexual encounter with Keri Claussen Khalighi in a lengthy statement.
The former model accused the Def Jam Recordings co-founder of sexual assault, telling the Los Angeles Times she became a victim of an explicit weekend of abuse in 1991, when she was just 17, with Simmons allegedly forcing her to have sex with him in his New York City apartment.
Russell has insisted the sexual contact that took place between them during the weekend in question was consensual, but on Wednesday (22Nov17) Keri made an appearance on U.S. talk show Megyn Kelly Today, stating his assertions were "ludicrous", and noting she later "had a face-to-face confrontation" with him about the incident during which "he actually apologised".
Hours after the model's interview, Simmons released a detailed written statement to The Hollywood Reporter, in which he acknowledged speaking to Claussen Khalighi years after the event took place, but he insists they have two different versions of events.
"In our meeting many years later, and subsequent conversations, Keri never accused me of what she has said publicly," the 60-year-old wrote. "She insisted I was not violent. She did tell me her boyfriend and many others found out about our long weekend together and she said she was ashamed by that discovery. I am sorry for the embarrassment she recounted to me."
Simmons acknowledged he acted like a "playboy" in the past, but insists he was "never abusive in any way".
"I have made choices that have offended some of the women in my life. It’s not cool to be a playboy and a new consciousness understands this," he added.
"I never committed any acts of aggression or violence in my life. I would never knowingly cause fear or harm to anyone. For any women from my past who I may have offended, I sincerely apologize. I am still evolving."
Simmons ended his statement by supporting sexual assault survivors, who have been speaking out about their traumas on social media through the #MeToo campaign, while calling attention to his charitable efforts to fight for gender equality.
"I remain an activist for women's rights and all things unjust. This is my life's work and journey, and God knows my heart," he shared.