Russell-Simmons-AJ-Calloway-Vibe-2018
Getty Images

Journalist Sil Lai Abrams Accuses Russell Simmons And A.J. Calloway Of Sexual Assault

The author-activist also claims NBC attempted to cover up the story. 

Update: 11:42 AM EST (June 29, 2018) - Russell Simmon's attorney has issued the following statement on behalf of the entrepreneur regarding the latest accusations and editorial:

"The Hollywood Reporter published an article despite material facts and witness statements shared with them that contradict Ms. Abrams’ account, all of which were omitted from the story. These documents include a declaration, sworn under oath, by someone who spoke with Ms. Abrams the day after her sexual encounter with Mr. Simmons and described it as consensual.

Ms. Abrams’ account of the evening in her own book also contradicts multiple accusations printed by The Hollywood Reporter. After reporting on Ms. Abrams’ account for nearly a year, including the examination of all the facts, MSNBC and New York magazine declined to pursue the story.  NBC said its news department had enlisted seasoned investigative journalists to assist Reid and that certain aspects of the story did not meet its standards.  It's disappointing, to say the least, that THR didn’t adhere to the same standards."

---

Author, journalist and activist Sil Lai Abrams has come forward with disturbing allegations of sexual assault against Russell Simmons and Extra co-host A.J. Calloway.

The Hollywood Reporter shared Abrams story Thursday (June 28) as well as the circles she jumped through with executives at NBC, who reportedly derailed her story. Abrams broke down both incidents which happened over ten years apart. She accused Simmons of rape in 1994 and Calloway of assault in 2006. Both stories were retold in her 2007 bookNo More Drama: Nine Simple Steps to Transforming a Breakdown into a Breakthrough with different names.

Abrams, who previously worked with Simmons and had a brief romance with, says they were hanging out as friends when the incident happened. After a night of drinking and party hopping, she was taken to his home by a driver. While she made it clear she didn't want to have sex, Simmons (who was sober) reportedly "flipped her onto her stomach, pulled down the bike shorts she was wearing beneath her dress and raped her." He then told her to leave since a woman he was pursuing was en route to his house.

The incident left her suicidal and depressed. After going sober, she ran into Simmons a few years later. "I'm sorry about what I did. I'm a different person now," he reportedly told her. Simmons' camp denied the conversation and the rape. Since last year, Simmons has been accused of sexual assault by over seven women.

READ MORE: #MeToo Founder Tarana Burke Talks Sexual Assault, Stigmas And Society

While working with Calloway for a charity event she organized, Abrams said Calloway made unwanted advances towards her including pulling out his penis and fondling her breasts.

"She called me and told me about A.J.," Carol Ingram, a friend of Abrams' said. "He grabbed her and started kissing her and then he grabbed her hand and started to masturbate."

Calloway was arrested and charged with claims related to forcible touching and attempted sexual misconduct. Abrams did get an order of protection against Calloway but the case was dropped in 2007.

An attorney for Calloway confirmed the case but denied the allegations. "These decade-old allegations are false," they said. "They were false when they were first made and are false now. Mr. Calloway fully cooperated with law enforcement from the beginning, denied the allegations, and the case was completely dismissed in November 2007. After the case was dismissed, the court records were sealed as a matter of law and are no longer available." Calloway was previously known for his hosting BET's 106 & Park with Free.

Abrams was prepared to go public with her story as early as November 2017 with MSNBC's Joy Reid. After lengthy reporting and interviews, Reid's story for MSNBC and New York magazine was vetted profusely with Reid calling out the NBC legal department for "slow-walking the story with idiotic requests."

But throughout the vetting process, concerns came to light in terms of confirming information and the refusal of witnesses to speak on the record.

In a statement to VIBE, Reid explained why the piece fell apart.

"After roughly three months, our team at MSNBC was far along in our reporting on the allegations against one of the accused men, but unable to confirm significant aspects of the claims related to the second man," she said.

"This meant that we could not report on either man. The process was clearly frustrating for Sil Lai, particularly once other women publicly accused one of the men. Investigative reports like these take time, and not surprisingly, sometimes journalists get frustrated as well. I inappropriately shared that frustration privately with Sil Lai. I completely respect MSNBC’s standards and practices. Meticulous research to get the facts right was the only option, especially given the seriousness of the allegations.”

A spokesperson from MSNBC also shared a statement about the process. “When MSNBC pursues any investigative story our mission is always to be as thorough as we can, to scrutinize sources and corroborate information before we report. Anything else falls short of our journalistic standards,” the statement reads.

Abrams believes the story was ultimately shelved in April in fear of Simmons and Calloway's lawyers taking legal action.

The allegations against the parent company bare resemblance to their handling of Billy Bush's Access Hollywood tape with President Donald Trump and turning away Ronan Farrow's Harvey Weinstein story. Both stories found platforms on The Washington Post and The New Yorker.

Calloway has not responded to Abrams' profile.

Read the full story here.

READ MORE: 50 Cent And Russell Simmons Mock Terry Crews’ Sexual Assault Claim

From the Web

More on Vibe

Quibi Documentary Explores LeBron James' I Promise School

Quibi's launch of original content has revealed an in-depth look into LeBron James' I Promise school based in the athlete's hometown of Akron, Ohio.

The docuseries explores young scholars attending the school and the traumas they've faced in their very short lives. I Promised officially opened in 2018, taking in low-income students who reportedly were among the worst performers in Akron’s public schools.

Speaking to People, James explained how the school's mission isn't just to improve grades but to provide emotional support the children will take into adulthood.

“Hope is a very powerful thing. No matter the situation, if a kid knows someone truly believes in them, that changes their outlook on everything,” James said. “With our school, everything is built on giving kids the confidence that they can do anything. They know I believe in them, they know their teachers, the whole staff, and everyone we’ve put around them believes in them. It’s incredible what they can do when they feel that support.”

Each student was handpicked with some improvement at record speed. According to The New York Times, 216 of 240 I Promise students met or exceeded their expected growth at the mid-year mark. “At the I PROMISE School, our goal is to let every single kid know they are special,” James added. “That they can be whatever they want to be. And that starts with addressing everything they’re going through before they even step foot in a classroom.”

Before its opening, James ensured that the parents of the students would also have a chance to expand their education and job hunt. Students also receive breakfast, lunch and snacks with access to an in-house food bank.

In the Quibi doc, James' mother Gloria Marie James, also shared how her son struggled in school as a child and how the player used his own life experience to help improve the school's mission statement.

“You’ll hear from my mom in the documentary, who shares how much we both can relate to what these kids and their families are going through,” he said. “A lot of what we do at I Promise School is based on our experience and that’s what makes the connection so real. We have a mutual understanding of each other and what we’re going through, and I think that gives us all the drive we need to succeed for one another.”

Like many schools around the country, I Promise teachers are engaging with students on platforms like Zoom.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Our family looks a little bit different on the computer screen than they do at school…🤔🤣 but there is truly nothing like family! #WeAreFamily

A post shared by I PROMISE School (@ipromiseschool) on Mar 26, 2020 at 1:04pm PDT

Quibi, a new streaming service from Jeffery Katzenberg, founder and CEO of Dreamworks, officially launched Monday with original content from the likes of Ariana Grande, Keke Palmer, Lena Waithe and more.

Luckily for T-Mobile customers, Quibi is on the house for a full year. T-Mobile customers with two or more voice lines at standard rates on Magenta and ONE plans with taxes and fees included — along with discounted First Responder, Military and Magenta Plus 55 plans — or small business customers with up to 12 lines, can get Quibi (regularly $4.99) added to their plan for free.

Customers can sign up between now and July 7 to get Quibi on Us by going to mytmobile.com or the T-Mobile app for iOS or Android.

See the full list of shows on the platform here.

Continue Reading
Pool

R. Kelly Denied Release From Jail Amid COVID-19 Fear

R.Kelly's request to be released from jail amid COVID-19 concerns was denied by a Brooklyn judge on Tuesday (April7), according to TMZ.

TMZ also reported that Kelly's lawyers asked that the R&B singer be place on house arrest at his home in Chicago.

“The defendant is currently in custody because of the risks that he will flee or attempt to obstruct, threaten or intimidate prospective witnesses,” U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly wrote via press release. “The defendant has not explained how those risks have changed.”

Kelly is at Chicago Metropolitan Correctional Center, where he is awaiting trial on racketeering, sexual misconduct and other charges.

Also, rapper YNW Melly recently tested positive for COVID-19 while in jail awaiting trial for double murder. He plans to file a motion to be released on house arrest.

Continue Reading
Michael Che attend the 70th Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 17, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Michael Che Loses His Grandmother To Coronavirus: "I'm Obviously Hurt And Angry"

Saturday Night Live Star Michael Che has opened up on social media after losing his grandmother to coronavirus.

The New York native shared the news on Monday (April 6) while laying out his confusion over the education about COVID-19. As the death toll reportedly rises in the United States, a breakdown of the virus' origins remain unclear. It's unknown how old Che's grandmother was, but the comedian and writer did press on the importance of eating clean and green.

“Hi. I’m Michael Che, from TV. Last night my grandmother passed away from the coronavirus,” Che wrote. “I’m doing OK, considering. I’m obviously very hurt and angry that she had to go through all that pain alone.”He went on, “But I’m also happy that she’s not in pain anymore. And I also feel guilty for feeling happy. Basically the whole gamut of complex feelings everybody else has losing someone very close and special. I’m not unique. But it’s still scary. I don’t know if I’ll lose someone else to this virus. I don’t know if I’ll be lost to this virus. Who f**king knows?”

But the jokes weren't off the table. He also pointed at the infamous conspiracy theories about 5G technology and bats being the source of the virus.

“I just refuse to believe I lost my sweet, beautiful grandma because some n***a ate a bat one time," he wrote. “Maybe tell people what they should be eating and what foods to avoid … instead of just posting death tolls as your lead story every godd**n day!”

During this time of self-isolation, phenomenons like the Netflix docuseries Tiger King have become insanely popular, making it the butt of Che's jokes. “If we can spend 6 hours watching some tweaker raise tigers, then we can spend a few minutes finding out how to not poison ourselves.”

According to Deadline, production on Saturday Night Live was expected to pick back up March 28 but as cases in New York increase, the hiatus has been extended.

You can read Che's entire post below.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

i swear, im fine.

A post shared by Michael Che (@chethinks) on Apr 6, 2020 at 11:20am PDT

Continue Reading

Top Stories