In the beginning of November, six women came forward to the Los Angeles Times alleging that director Brett Ratner sexually harassed and/or assaulted them. The women include actresses Natasha Henstridge, Olivia Munn, Jaime Ray Newman, Katharine Towne and Jorina King and model Eri Sasaki. Their allegations range from unwanted touching to sexually explicit comments to unsolicited indecent exposure. After the Times published these allegations, a Facebook post written on October 20th by former Endeavor Talent Agency employee Melanie Kohler accusing Ratner of raping her surfaced.
Recently, two women have accused Ratner and Russell Simmons of jointly working together to harass and assault women. The report, also published in the Los Angeles Times, details the experiences of models Keri Claussen Khalighi and Tanya Reid.
Khalighi alleges that in 1991, Ratner and Simmons tried to force themselves on her, then only 17-years-old, after taking her to dinner in New York. The three were at Simmons’s apartment when he began making sexual advances. “I looked over at Brett and said ‘help me’ and I’ll never forget the look on his face,” she told the Times. “In that moment, the realization fell on me that they were in it together.”
Reid alleges that in 1994, Ratner and Simmons repeatedly called the front desk of the Miami hotel the three were staying at and asked to speak with her. Eventually, the two men called her room to solicit sex: “I remember this very, very clearly, the exact words he said on the phone. He wanted me to come upstairs so Brett could hold me down and he could [perform oral sex],” Reid said.
On November 10th, actress Ellen Page posted a detailed account on Facebook of an inappropriate interaction that took place between her and Ratner on set of “X-Men: The Last Stand.” “I was eighteen years old. He looked at a woman standing next to me, ten years my senior, pointed to me and said: ‘You should fuck her to make her realize she’s gay,'” she wrote.
In addition, actor Terry Crews, who recently came forward alleging that WME agent Adam Venit (who is currently on leave from the agency) groped him at a red carpet event, tweeted an e-mail sent by Simmons in which he urges Crews to “give the agent a pass” and “ask that he be reinstated.”
Both Ratner and Simmons vehemently deny all allegations against them. The behavior of these two men is exposed as numerous men in the worlds of art, fashion, entertainment, and politics have been accused of sexual misconduct. Though we are saddened by the volume of women who have been harassed and assaulted by men (formerly) in positions of power, the recent conversations surrounding rape culture are critical to ending it.