Sunday, May 16, 2021

NBC Accused of Burying Sexual Assault Claims Against Russell Simmons and A.J. Calloway

*Author and activist Sil Lai Abrams decided to spill the tea to THR about how NBC attempted to bury rape allegations against Russell Simmons and ‘Extra’ host A.J. Calloway.

According to the publication, 47-year-old Abrams had already told her own story about two alleged sexual assaults — 12 years apart — in her 2007 book, “No More Drama.” But she had not used real names.

Then everything changed when Abrams felt emboldened by the #MeToo movement. She revealed that: Ronald, described in the book as “well known for only dating models and for his hard-partying lifestyle funded by his very successful record label,” was Russell Simmons, who Abrams alleges raped her in 1994. “Well-spoken B-list celebrity Ray,” who Abrams says assaulted her in 2006, was A.J. Calloway, a host on the entertainment show Extra, which is produced by Warner Bros. and airs in major markets on NBC owned-and-operated stations. Both men deny the allegations.

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Abrams approached MSNBC host Joy Reid because she had been a guest on Reid’s show speaking about domestic violence.

“I needed to tell my story, to say his name out loud, to let people know what he had done to me,” Abrams says. And she had allegations not just about Simmons but about Calloway, which she believed would dispel “this one-and-done idea of assault.” Many people experience more than one attack in their lives, she explains, but “it’s just not spoken of.”

In mid-December, MSNBC’s standards and legal departments began putting Abrams through a grinding vetting process. She responded to their requests, providing documents from years earlier, including several court orders issued in New York against Calloway. She supplied contact information for sources who could verify aspects of her past, including some who had been told of the alleged assaults in the immediate aftermath.

In January, Reid taped an on-camera interview with Abrams at MSNBC’s New York studio. But a process that had begun in December dragged on frustratingly for weeks and then months. At times, Reid texted or emailed Abrams about her sense that the network was “slow walking” the story with “stupid” requests. Finally, in April, Abrams says Reid told her that the network was no longer responding to her queries as to when the segment might air.

You can read more about Sil’s shocking allegations NBC’s alleged cover-up here.

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is a screenwriter and freelance reporter from Chicago -- currently living in Los Angeles and covering A-list entertainment for various outlets, including Emmys.com. She has worked for: Miramax, MTV & VH1, The Jim Henson Company, Hallmark Channel, Paramount Pictures, and for iconic indie film producer Roger Corman.

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