In November 1990, Alexia Norton Jones went on a date with Russell Simmons. She recalls that they had a pleasant night out, which ended with the co-founder of Def Jam Recordings inviting her to see his new apartment in downtown Manhattan. There, Jones says, Simmons pinned her against a wall and raped her. “It was such a fast attack,” she told Variety. “He pulled my dress up. I must have said no seven to 10 times.”
After she left, distraught and in shock, Jones claims that Simmons continued to pursue her, calling her at home and approaching her at social events. Jones, a 31-year-old aspiring model and actress at the time (she is the granddaughter of late book publisher W.W. Norton), was in the same social circle as Simmons. And Simmons was a friend of Jones’ father, Clarence Jones, who had served as an attorney and speechwriter for Martin Luther King Jr. After some years had passed, Jones forgave Simmons.
Last spring, almost three decades later, Jones filed a police report with the NYPD, from her home in Arizona, detailing the incident. Although her case fell outside the statue of limitations in New York for felonies, she wanted to stand with the other alleged victims of abuse by the music mogul and producer. She says she isn’t seeking any monetary damages.
In total, more than a dozen women have accused Simmons of sexual assault or rape (some of these stories were uncovered by investigations from The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times). Simmons, who has denied any wrongdoing, stepped down from his companies in November, after a guest column was published in The Hollywood Reporter by the screenwriter Jenny Lumet, in which she alleged that he sexually assaulted her in 1991.
Simmons issued a statement to Variety, denying that he had assaulted Jones. “I’m deeply saddened by this story from Alexia,” Simmons said. “At no time did she share these feelings about her first sexual encounter with me, which took place roughly 28 years ago. I have taken multiple lie detector tests that affirm I never sexually assaulted anyone. Alexia and I dated, were intimate and attended multiple events together after she alleges the incident occurred in 1990. I considered her a friend for all these years and continue to have a warm relationship with members of her family. I believe we last spoke in 2006 when she called to express her disappointment over the fact that I had not attended an event honoring her father.”
Simmons’ representative also provided a written statement by his driver, Kenneth L. Jennings, who has worked for him since 1989. “I recall driving Mr. Simmons and Alexia Jones on about 10 to 12 dates in or about 1990,” the statement read. “Their relationship lasted approximately five months.”
Jones says that she never dated Simmons. She acknowledged that she called him more than 12 years ago, to ask why he hadn’t attended an event that honored her father. She never told her dad what Simmons had done to her. But she confided in her therapist, who confirmed to Variety that Jones spoke with her in the early ’90s about the alleged attack in their sessions. Here’s Jones’ story, from a series of interviews with Variety.
Alexia Norton Jones: As a young woman in my 20s, I never thought of myself as beautiful. I think there’s something wrong with you if you believe that. I was born with a happy spirit, so my parents allowed to be photographed as a child model. Once I was out of college, I started studying classic Chinese medicine, and I picked up some commercial modeling as a way to make extra money on the side. In the late ‘80s, I found some success as an agent for Hall of Fame star Dave Winfield’s book, “Winfield: A Player’s Life,” which became a bestseller.
But one of the most interesting and strange things about my life was these men. I’m not going to use their real names, but many of them are well-known in Hollywood. I walked out of the street and they were there. I had a friend who referred to them as my “bees,” because they were always buzzing around me. I honestly thought it was because I was nice. It’s not until now that I can objectively look back and say that I was beautiful. When you’re young, we have all our anxiety and doubt.
I went out a lot in New York. I wasn’t a big dancer. I didn’t drink. I didn’t do drugs. My crowd turned out to be clean. We were all out at the same nights at upscale clubs. I came from a well-known family, but we didn’t talk about that. My great-grandfather founded the Journal of Biological Chemistry. I’m the granddaughter of William Warder Norton of W.W. Norton book publishers. My father is Clarence Jones, who spent eight years as Martin Luther King Jr.’s attorney. When he married my mother Anne at the Waldorf Astoria in 1956, it was one of the first high society interracial weddings of New York City.
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SOURCE: Variety, Ramin Setoodeh