Russell Simmons’ Claim He’s Spiritually Changed Motivated Actress To Reveal Alleged Assault

December 20, 2017  |  

When Russell Simmons was first accused of sexual assault by model Keri Claussen Khalighi in November, he responded to her claims by denying any abuse, but also by admitting that his playboy behaviors of the past were nothing to be proud of. All of these years later though, he said he was evolving in consciousness, and now a seasoned yogi, evolving spiritually as well.

“As a yogi I believe intent is very important. My intent always came from a joyful, playful place. I can sleep at night because I know who I am. And I know who I was,” he wrote for the Hollywood Reporter. “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.”

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For Natashia Williams-Blach, who was in How to Be a Player, a film produced by the mogul, it was his entire statement that set her off and pushed her to tell the story of her own unpleasant encounter with Simmons.

“I followed this story when it emerged, and I wasn’t going to actually say anything at all,” she said in a sit-down interview with Megyn Kelly and fellow accuser Sherri Hines. “I was going to stay on the sidelines and just kinda watch this unraveling…When I read Keri’s statement, and him, on record it was denial, and he said, ‘How can I be a rapist when I’m a yogi and a vegan?’ I don’t know why that’s relevant… I fell out of my seat. You can’t write this. You can’t make this up.”

She continued, “We literally just went to yoga. We literally just did downward dog before you acted like a dog. I know there’s this propensity for certain people to enshrine themselves in the religious or civic stuff. And that’s the thing I want to touch on too: There is a lot of philanthropy coming from his side. There is a lot of good actions, good-meaning intentions. But they become dirty by these other things that were done in the darkness that are coming to light.”

According to Williams-Blach, Simmons tried to force her to perform oral sex on him when she was 18 after they took part in a yoga class in 1996. They went back to his place to, as she thought, check out the promotions for How to Be a Player. A student at UCLA at the time, she was able to get away from him by claiming she had to do some studying and that people were waiting for her back at her dorm.

 “You just realize you escaped a minefield,” she said. “When it happened, something else took over. I went into an automatic, ‘You just gotta go. You got to get out,” she said.
Simmons has denied all claims of assault, standing by his statements that his sexual encounters have all been consensual. He even started the hashtag movement, #NotMe to counter allegations, a co-opt of sorts of the #MeToo movement. However, he did step down from his numerous businesses in an effort to not be a distraction to them and to the important conversation being had about the abuse of power in many industries against women. For Williams-Blach, while she understands his feelings of growth, particularly spiritually, it isn’t an excuse to sidestep previous poor behavior.

“It is true that when you are feeling like growing and expanding spiritually it’s usually when you find that you’re having problems in other areas of your life,” she told Kelly. “Maybe you’re deluded. I say denial stands for, ‘Don’t even know I’m lying.'”

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