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Kimora Lee defends ex Russell Simmons: 'These allegations are nothing like the person I have known'

Carly Milne
Writer, Yahoo Entertainment & Lifestyle
Kimora Lee Simmons supports Russell Simmons at a fashion show in 2014. (Photo: Shareif Ziyadat/FilmMagic)

As accusations of sexual misconduct continue to mount against music mogul Russell Simmons, his ex-wife, model and fashion entrepreneur Kimora Lee Simmons, has spoken out.

“I add my voice to the chorus of those speaking out against harassment and violence in all its forms,” she said in a statement she shared on Instagram.

 

“I have known Russell for over 25 years. We were close friends, married, divorced and have remained friends, co-parents and partners throughout it all,” she said of Russell, whom she divorced in 2009 and with whom she shares two teenage daughters. “These allegations against him are nothing like the person I have known in all that time. I have known him to be a caring and supportive father and someone who has worked tirelessly to uplift disenfranchised communities.”

Kimora went on to highlight the current climate as a “pivotal moment in which men are being held accountable for their abuses of power and denigrating behavior towards women in all spheres,” noting that as a mother of daughters, she feels it’s important that victims not be shamed. However, she also calls for due process and a fair trial for those who are accused.

“My sincere hope is that anyone faced with harassment or assault reports it to their organization and/or law enforcement, though I understand that in many cases, this may not be possible,” she wrote. “I remain committed as always to fighting injustice and inequity in all its forms. God Bless.”

The couple began dating in 1992, after they met during New York Fashion Week. Kimora was 17 years old and preparing to finish high school, while Russell was 35, already a big name in music, and known as a womanizer. The two married in 1998 and went on to welcome daughters Ming and Aoki.

Over the course of their relationship, they were also business partners. Kimora was the creative director of Baby Phat, an offshoot of Russell’s popular Phat Farm clothing line. When he sold the label and moved on from his role as CEO, she became president and creative director of Phat Fashions, which included the launch of a line of activewear.

By 2006, their marriage was over. Kimora filed for divorce in 2008, and it was finalized in 2009. But their relationship remained solid for the sake of their daughters. She spoke about co-parenting with her ex back in 2013.

“Kids never go away from your life, and if you’ve been married, that person probably never goes away either,” she told the Daily Mail. “You never get rid of anyone and they never really get rid of you!”

Both parents have been committed to doing the right thing for their daughters. As Kimora put it in the same interview, “I try to do everything from the viewpoint of what’s best for my kids. I have three kids and two great dads and it’s not always easy, but you have to try to be a little selfless and we manage just fine.”

In fact, the exes are so comfortable with their post-marriage relationship that in February 2014, Russell congratulated Kimora on her marriage to Tim Leissner via Twitter.

“All of us love @OfficialKimora but the fact is she is happily married,” he wrote. “Tim has been in the family for a while now.” (The tweet is no longer available since Simmons deleted his account.)

But as close as the exes have been, and as supportive as Kimora is of her former husband, it’s hard to ignore the charges mounting against him. As detailed by People, he’s been accused of sexual misconduct by 15 women. Among the accusers are screenwriter Jenny Lumet, who said he raped her in 1991 when she was 24; actress Natashia Williams-Blach, who said she fended off the mogul’s attempts to force her to perform oral sex on him when she was 18; and publicist Kelly Cutrone, who said he attempted to rape her in 1991.

The most recent accusation comes from filmmaker Jennifer Jarosik, who alleges that Russell raped her in his Beverly Hills home in 2016. She said she accepted an invitation to his home, then declined when he asked her to have sex with him. He then became “aggressive,” pushing her on a bed where he “pounced on her” and “proceeded to rape her,” she alleged in a $5 million lawsuit filed Wednesday in Los Angeles.

Simmons continued to profess his innocence in a statement: “I have already apologized for the instances of thoughtlessness in my consensual relations. … What I will not accept is responsibility for what I have not done. I have conducted my life with a message of peace and love. Although I have been candid about how I have lived in books and interviews detailing my flaws, I will relentlessly fight against any untruthful character assassination that paints me as a man of violence.”

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