Jennifer Jarosik, one of a half-dozen women who say Russell Simmons harassed or raped them, is speaking out against Def Jam founder Russell Simmons and detailing the alleged incident where the hip-hop mogul took advantage of her in his own home.
In an emotional interview with TODAY, Jarosik explained to host Megyn Kelly that she’s speaking out for her own healing.
“The reason I am here today, which has been so hard for me to do, is for healing. Is for my own healing, for my own voice that’s been silenced, and for all the trauma that I’ve held for all of these years, and for the other women, for the other women to know that they too can come forward and speak about this.”
She went on to say she had a lot of respect for Simmons and once considered him a “friend” and “mentor.”
“I had a great, tremendous amount of respect for him at the time and I had thought, this is amazing. Here is this high-profile man who understood what I was trying to do, to help women, who offered to give an interview,” she said.
After the interview, she alleges Simmons “aggressively” came on to her.
“He started to kiss me and then he raped me,” Jarosik said. “I tried to force him off, but it happened so quickly and I just froze. I think I just froze.”
Jarosik also claims Simmons assaulted her again in 2016 in Los Angeles. She admitted to being “weak” for continuing a relationship with him, and that she partially blamed herself for what happened.
“I’m also very forgiving. He was a friend, I feel that I wanted to give him another chance,” Jarosik said.
Now, the aspiring filmmaker is suing the 60-year-old for $5M over the alleged incident.
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Born and raised in Compton, California, Jessica Bennett began her career as an intern at The Oakland Post, and later, The Source Magazine. She went on to write for respected hip hop publications such as DJ Booth and Hip Hop DX before becoming the Urban Editor of pop culture website, Wetpaint.com. She joined Ebony as the Entertainment Editor August 2017. Bennett has interviewed such names as Vanessa Williams, Spike Lee, Tyra Banks, Forest Whitaker, Magic & Cookie Johnson and several others.