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Oprah Banishes Russell Simmons from Book of Wisdom

Amid numerous sexual assault allegations against Simmons, his thoughts on meditation are no longer welcome in Oprah's book.


The lifestyle advice of entrepreneur-producer Russell Simmons will no longer be available in upcoming editions of Oprah Winfrey's book, "The Wisdom of Sundays." Winfrey's publisher has pressed the delete button following the recent sexual assault allegations against Simmons, including rape.

Winfrey's book, a bestseller, was first published in October. It is a collection of excerpts from conversations between Winfrey and guests of her OWN network series, "Super Soul Sunday." Simmons was highlighted in passages in which he spoke about the impact of meditation on his life and his thoughts on abundance and wealth. The passages were included alongside excerpts from Deepak Chopra, among others.

Marlena Bittner, a spokeswoman for Flatiron Books, told The New York Times that future editions of the book, available in stores starting this month, will not contain the segments featuring Simmons.

"Bittner said the decision to remove the pages was made jointly by Ms. Winfrey and the publisher, but declined to say when they made that choice," according to the Times.

At the Golden Globes on Jan. 7, Winfrey made a powerful speech in support of Time's Up, the Hollywood initiative to combat sexual harassment and discrimination.

"In the book, she also writes about being a victim and coming to terms with her own abuse by learning to confront it," the New York Times reports.

Simmons, 60, is co-founder of the hip-hop label Def Jam Records and also a film producer. He founded the fashion lines Phat Farm and Tantris, and co-produced films and TV shows including "The Nutty Professor" and "Def Comedy Jam."

In a 2016 interview, Simmons talked about his lifestyle of meditation, yoga and veganism, even stating that he helped Winfrey become familiar with meditation.

"Teaching Oprah to meditate was a very special experience," he told The New York Times. "I sent Bob Roth to her," he said, referring to a teacher of Transcendental Meditation.

Jennifer Jarosik Claims Simmons Raped Her Twice

In November, fashion model Keri Claussen Khalighi accused Simmons of sexual misconduct in 1991 when she was 17 and he was 34 years old.

Khalighi said that Simmons coerced her to perform a sex act and later penetrated her without her consent. She also said that film producer and director Brett Ratner was present.

Ever since Khalighi told her story, at least 15 women have come forward with sexual misconduct accusations against him. The accusations, ranging from inappropriate behavior in the workplace to rape, span more than three decades.

Simmons has denied the allegations.

Aspiring filmmaker Jennifer Jarosik has alleged Simmons raped her on two separate occasions. Last week, Jarosik filed a $5 million civil lawsuit against him.

In an appearance Tuesday on "Megyn Kelly TODAY," Jarosik said that she and Simmons were friends and "actually he was a mentor."

In 2011 she said she traveled to New York City to interview him for a documentary film on women's empowerment. Jarosik met with Simmons in his office.

"After the interview, he had asked my director to leave the room," she said. "He wanted to speak with me privately. He aggressively came on to me. He started to kiss me then he raped me. I tried to force him off, but it happened so quickly. I think I just froze."

"I feel that I was weak in some ways," she said. "I feel like I depended upon him to possibly help my film. And, also he was a friend, so I kind of blamed myself. I'm also very forgiving. I wanted to give him another chance."

Jarosik claims that when she saw Simmons again in 2016, he raped her a second time.

"I went over to his house in Los Angeles and we were having a meeting," she said. "He pushed me and forced himself on top of me. And I hit my head this time. I left crying."

Jarosik's attorney said the civil lawsuit is based on the 2016 claim because it is within the statute of limitations.

Simmons said in a statement to Kelly that the allegations are "absolutely untrue."

"I look forward to having my day in court where, unlike the court of public opinion, I will have the ability to make use of fair processes that ensure that justice will be done and that the full truth will be known," he said.

In December, the New York Police Department launched an official investigation into the sexual misconduct accusations against Simmons. The investigation is based on the numerous women who have come forward in the media.

Simmons stepped away from his fashion and production businesses in December after screenwriter Jenny Lumet said in a column in the Hollywood Reporter that he sexually assaulted her in 1991.

"I don't want to be a distraction so I am removing myself from the businesses that I founded," he said in a statement.

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A spokesperson for The New York Times told Reuters: "We are confident in the accuracy of our reporting, which was based on verified documents and multiple sources."

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