Russell Simmons’ Sexual Assault Accuser Sil Lai Abrams Talks HBO Max Documentary On ‘The Breakfast Club’

Russell Simmons talks about his new book, "Success Through Stillness: Meditation Made Simple" at Barnes & Noble Tribeca on March 5, 2014 in New York City.
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Sil Lai Abrams spoke about detailing her alleged sexual assault at the hands of Russell Simmons during HBO Max’s documentary, On The Record.

Last week, Simmons appeared on The Breakfast Club to discuss the allegations he received from Abrams and two other women that appeared in the documentary. According to The Root, hosts Angela Yee, Charlamagne tha God, and DJ Envy asked Simmons questions regarding the accusations made in the film. Abrams, as well as several other commenters, felt the interview was dangerous and triggering for other survivors of sexual abuse.

Yee and Abrams were the only ones present for the interview on Wednesday, June 17. During their discussion, Yee shared that HBO had reached out to her after Abrams said how upset she was about the hosts’ conversation with Simmons. She also said the network never contacted her about interviewing the survivors prior to the documentary’s release. While Abrams admitted she did want to come on the show beforehand, she said she was more disturbed at the hosts for not challenging Simmons throughout the interview.

“What was incredibly painful for me as a survivor was being silenced for so long and the first time that Russell pops up is on a show with such a reach as The Breakfast Club and that he was unchallenged, essentially throughout the entire interview,” Abrams recalled. “And not only was he unchallenged and allowed to perpetuate a lot of harmful myths around rape and around the women that have accused him but also, it was very retraumatizing.”

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After Abrams shared her truth, Yee apologized on behalf of herself and her co-hosts. As the interview continued, the women addressed several controversial moments that occurred leading up to the documentary. One of the main topics was Oprah Winfrey’s decision to no longer be a part of the film earlier this year. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Winfrey backed out of her executive producer role in January after citing creative differences with the doc’s team. However, she did state that she stands with the survivors and believes their stories.

Abrams, Drew Dixon, and Sheri Hines are the three women who recounted their instances with Simmons in On The Record. Both Abrams and Dixon claimed Simmons raped them in the 1990s, though he has vehemently denied the allegations. The Def Jam co-founder said on The Breakfast Club that his accusers made him look like a “monster,” which he said isn’t his personality. He also claimed he dated several black actresses who didn’t have the same experiences. In 2018, Simmons moved to Bali, Indonesia, which has no extradition agreement with the United States.