Eleven women have reportedly accused Russell Simmons of rape and sexual misconduct over the span of nearly 10 years. In response to the new wave of allegations, Simmons has launched the #NotMe hashtag, in order to pledge his innocence.
Simmons posted an image of his new hashtag on Instagram on Dec. 14, following several reports of sexual assault published by The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times on Wednesday (Dec. 13 ) evening. “Today, I begin to properly defend myself. I will prove without any doubt that I am innocent of all rape charges,” he wrote in the caption. “Today, I will focus on “The Original Sin” (Keri Claussen), the claim that created this insane pile on of my #MeToo. Stay tuned! We’ll share information today…And tomorrow the case of Jenny Lumet.”
Simmons also stated that his new hashtag was not a mission to tarnish the countless number of truth initiated by the #MeToo movement, but to show support for those falsely accused. “My intention is not to diminish the #MeToo movement in anyway, but instead hold my accusers accountable,” he continued. “#NotMe Again, this is not a movement against or even in conjunction with #MeToo. It’s just a statement about my innocence.”
The post comes shortly after Simmons announced that he would be stepping down from all of his businesses in Nov. 2017. “This is a time of great transition. The voices of the voiceless, those who have been hurt or shamed, deserve and need to be heard,” Simmons said at the time. “As the corridors of power inevitably make way for a new generation, I don't want to be a distraction, so I am removing myself from the businesses that I founded.”