We’ll start this article with a trigger warning: per the headline, this story deals with rape.
Three women who are slated to tell their stories in a forthcoming documentary that is set to premiere at Sundance, recently explained during an interview with CBS News how they feel that Russell Simmons has tried to “drown out our voices.”
Sil Lai Abrams, Drew Dixon, and Alexia Norton Jones have accused Simmons of rape and spoke about their experiences with the music mogul and entrepreneur in an interview with CBS News reporter Michelle Miller. It aired on CBS This Morning on Wednesday (Jan. 15).
The yet-to-be-titled film explores their stories in-depth and is set to debut on Jan. 25 at the Sundance Film Festival. Before the film’s premiere, the three women detailed how Simmons allegedly raped them.
“I hope that black women and girls become more visible as a result of this documentary,” said Dixon, who worked for Simmons in 1995 when she said the hip-hop icon allegedly attacked her. “This is violently tackled and raped — while saying no and fighting and crying.”
She continued, “I literally worked for him. He was ordering me a car, and he told me to come upstairs and pick up a demo. I thought I would be in his apartment for five total minutes. That’s it. And he showed up naked, wearing a condom and tackled me to his bed, while I screamed and fought and said, ‘No,’ and cried. That’s rape.”
Abrams said that she and Simmons dated in the early 1990s on and off. However, she said that their relationship was over, in 1994 when Simmons allegedly raped her. “He’ll say, ‘Yes, we had a sexual relationship,’ but he cannot address the fact that I was too drunk to consent, and that the next day I called him up, screaming. And I attempted suicide. He knew,” Abrams said. “And I told him why, that he had ruined my life, and that I had nothing.”
Jones told Miller that she knew the Def Jam Recordings co-founder before he came to fame, and she also said that he raped her on their first date in 1991.
“This was a very swift attack, and what was going through my mind more than anything was, ‘Why?’ Because I liked Russell. And I, you know, I would’ve just kissed him. I would’ve made out with him. I would’ve — he didn’t have to attack me,” she said. “He raped me right up against the [expletive] wall. Excuse my language. But he — that’s what he did. I had to keep this secret.”
Russell Simmons has denied all allegations of rape. Back in December, Oprah Winfrey was announced as an executive producer of the documentary. At the time, the music mogul questioned the media mogul’s involvement. “I have never been violent or forced myself on anyone,” Simmons wrote on Instagram.
However, last week, Winfrey stepped down from the project, citing creative differences with the filmmakers, Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering. It was in Winfrey’s plans to air the documentary on Apple TV+ after its debut at the Sundance Film Festival.
“There is more work to be done on the film to illuminate the full scope of what the victims endured,” Winfrey said in part in a statement. “I want it to be known that I unequivocally believe and support the women.” Watch Dixon, Abrams and Jones’ CBS News interview below.