Who is Keri Claussen Khalighi? Model Accuses Russell Simmons of Rape

Russell Simmons
Russell Simmons, pictured March 5, 2014 in New York, was accused of raping 17-year-old model Keri Claussen Khalighi in 1991. He denied the allegations, saying their encounter was consensual. Getty Images

Def Jam Recordings mogul Russell Simmons is the latest entertainment industry figure to be accused of sexual misconduct. On Sunday, model Keri Claussen Khalighi told the Los Angeles Times that Simmons allegedly raped her in 1991 when she was 17 years old. Brett Ratner allegedly watched.

Khalighi said she met up with the powerful duo at a casting call. After going to dinner in New York, Simmons invited her to his apartment to watch a music video. He started to rip off her clothes, and when she wanted Ratner to help her, she realized they were “in it together.”

“I looked over at Brett and said ‘help me’ and I'll never forget the look on his face,” she told the LA Times.

Simmons, who was double her age, allegedly tried to force her to have sex. She “acquiesced” to perform oral sex. Ratner “…sat there and watched,” she said. After the incident, the model went to take a shower because she felt “disgusting.” At that point, and without consent, Simmons allegedly penetrated her.

The music mogul maintained the encounter was consensual. “Everything that occurred between Keri and me occurred with her full consent and participation,” he said. 

Ratner’s attorney, Martin Singer, told the LA Times he didn’t remember the incident, or Khalighi asking for help.

Twitter users widely sided with Khalighi, with most saying they weren’t surprised Simmons was accused of rape. They cited his relationship with ex-wife Kimora Lee, who he apparently met when she was 17 years old. The couple was married for nearly 10 years and divorced in 2009.

Hours after Khalighi's accusation was made public, actor and former NFL star Terry Crews, who came forward with sexual assault allegations last month, added to the narrative against Simmons. When Crews accused WME agent Adam Venit of groping him, Simmons allegedly sent the following email: “Did he ever apologize? Give the agent a pass, ask that he be reinstated.”

Crews captioned the tweet on Sunday: “Dear @UncleRUSH--NO ONE GETS A PASS.”

Simmons has not yet responded to Crews' tweet.

Talk show host Wendy Williams made headlines on Wednesday when she said on her show Crews was “not brave” to come forward with his sexual assault allegations.

“I was asked in my meeting this morning, do I think it was brave of him to come out. I said, ‘No, it's not brave, he's just talking,” Williams said, referencing an interview she had on Good Morning America. “It may have a really negative effect on his career, do you know what I mean? Being all black and being all chatty and this agent... He named names y'all. Terry's going in.”

She then seemed to back step, saying she supported Crews. “I'm glad Terry came forward to expose, unfortunately I feel that in the race war that's going on in this country still, Terry will suffer,” she said. “But good for you Terry and shame on you bald man.”

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