The investigation comes a day after nine different women accused Simmons of varying levels of sexual misconduct in a pair of stories in the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. Many of these women said Simmons exposed himself to them. Four accused him of rape.
“Russell Simmons fully supports and will cooperate with the police inquiry and is confident of a swift resolution,” Brad Rose, an attorney for Simmons, told CNN in a statement Wednesday night.
Since November, at least 11 women altogether, including screenwriter Jenny Lumet, actress Natashia Williams-Blach and fashion publicist Kelly Cutrone, have accused Simmons of sexual misconduct. Many said they remained silent because of his powerful position as a leader in the hip-hop and fashion communities.
Simmons has repeatedly denied these allegations.
“I vehemently deny all these allegations. These horrific accusations have shocked me to my core and all of my relations have been consensual,” he told the New York Times in a statement on Thursday, adding, “The presumption of innocent until proven guilty must not be replaced by ‘Guilty by Accusation.’”
He also posted a note to Instagram on Thursday with the hashtag #NotMe, a play on the hashtag #MeToo, which thousands of women used to share their stories of sexual harassment and assault after the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke.
“Today, I begin to properly defend myself,” he said in the note. “I will prove without any doubt that I am innocent of all rape charges.”
“My intention is not to diminish the #MeToo movement in anyway, but instead hold my accusers accountable. #NotMe Again, this is not a movement against or even in conjunction with #Metoo. It’s just a statement about my innocence,” he added.
His comments quickly drew criticism, including from Sherri Hines, one of the women who accused Simmons of rape and who said the NYPD contacted her.
“I’m appalled that Russell is sitting there calling these women liars and calling me a liar,” Hines told the Los Angeles Times. “I’m not trying to bash him, but you did what you did, and what you did in the dark comes to light.”
Simmons is one of the fathers of hip-hop, co-founding Def Jam Recordings, which produced some of the genre’s earliest hits from artists like Public Enemy, the Beastie Boys and LL Cool J. He sold his stake in the company in 1999 for a reported $100 million. By then, he had founded several other companies, such as Rush Communications.
In late November, after Lumet published a column in the Hollywood Reporter claiming Simmons “sexually violated” her, Simmons stepped down from the companies he founded after two women accused him of sexual assault, saying he didn’t want to be a “distraction.”