Like many women who found comfort in the #MeToo movement, writer and activist Sil Lai Abrams came forward this week and named the men who she said raped her years ago. Though she’d written about her assaults, which happened 12 years apart, in her 2007 book No More Drama, Abrams had not named her attackers on the record until now.
In a heartbreaking story by The Hollywood Reporter, Abrams claimed the men she described in her book as “Ronald” — a man who was "well known for only dating models and for his hard-partying lifestyle funded by his very successful record label" — and “Ray” — a "well-spoken B-list celebrity” — were actually pseudonyms for Def Jam founder Russell Simmons and TV host A.J. Calloway.
In 1994, Abrams said she was assaulted by Simmons, a longtime acquaintance. After a night of partying and heavy drinking, Abrams said Simmons took her back to his penthouse and assaulted her.
The Hollywood Reporters states: “By Abrams' account, she never imagined that Simmons presented a threat or that he might force himself on a woman. But as she drifted in and out of awareness, she says, she opened her eyes and saw him approaching, naked except for a condom. As she realized his intention, she says, she repeatedly said no. But she says he flipped her onto her stomach, pulled down the bike shorts she was wearing beneath her dress and raped her.”
Simmons has denied Abrams’ account, though The Hollywood Reporter spoke with several of her friends who said she told them about the alleged attack soon after it occurred. Simmons has also been accused of sexual misconduct and assault by several other women and is currently being investigated by New York police.
In 2006, Abrams said she was once again the victim of sexual violence, this time by Extra host, A.J. Calloway.
Abrams said she met with Calloway in 2006 in order to ask him to participate in a fundraiser for a small nonprofit. According to Abrams, Calloway, who was married, was “extremely attentive, paying her many compliments.” Still, they worked together to make the fundraiser a success. The pair kept in contact, particularly because Abrams had expressed interest in starting her own nonprofit. However, whenever they spoke, Abrams said Calloway “occasionally tried to turn the talk to sex, she says, but she rebuffed him, still hoping his interest in her project was sincere.”
When the pair met the day after Christmas in 2006, Abrams said that’s when things turned violent.
“When she told him it was time for her to head home, he offered to drive her. Once they were en route, he asked, ‘Do you see what you do to me?’ When she turned, she says, she was shocked to see that he was displaying his erect penis. She says she told him, ‘Why don't you do us both a favor and put that away?’” the article states.
The Hollywood Reporter continues: “Abrams says it was late and cold and she wasn't far from home. Calculating that he wouldn't push things too far, she says, she decided not to bolt out of the car. But when he pulled up outside her building, she says he started kissing her and fondling her breast, and she saw he was exposing himself again. He tried to push her head down on his lap, she says, and when she pulled away, he grabbed her hand, put it on his penis and stroked himself until he ejaculated. Before getting out of the car, she says she angrily asked him why he had done it. Soon after she was back in her apartment, she says, he called to apologize.”
After the alleged incident with Calloway, Abrams filed a police report and he was arrested, but the case was dismissed “on procedural grounds.” Calloway’s lawyer has denied the assault occurred, telling The Hollywood Reporter, “These decade-old allegations are false. They were false when they were first made and are false now.”
Abrams initially planned on sharing her story with MSNBC’s Joy Reid, but after months of back and forth with the network, Reid confessed the network was “just slow-walking the story with idiotic requests” after receiving long, scary-sounding" letters from both Simmons and Calloway’s attorneys.
Abrams said the entire experience had been traumatic, but only strengthened her resolve to speak out.
"I want people to understand how incredibly challenging this is, with a story like mine that's highly sourced, with me doing this [advocacy] work in the public arena. And I can't get my story out there? If I didn't have those things, let's be very clear, no one would know about this today,” she said.
Despite threats from Simmons and Calloway’s lawyers, Abrams said she hopes that her story inspires others to come forward.
“I'm speaking out for all the other women who have been silenced, to let them know it's not their fault,” she said.