TERRY CREWS DETAILS HIS SEXUAL ASSAULT IN POWERFUL TESTIMONY TO SENATE
According to Lucia Graves, on Tuesday, Brooklyn Nine-Nine star Terry Crews appeared in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify about his own story of sexual assault and to advocate for the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights.
This past year we have seen powerful men in Hollywood and elsewhere finally held accountable for sexual assault,” Crews said in his opening statement. “We also saw the backlash survivors faced coming forward. I wanted these survivors to know that I believed them, I supported them, and that this happened to me too.”
In reporting his assault, Crews said, “I heard time and time again about the rights that my predator had, but I was never told about the rights I had as a survivor. That was the wake-up call. I knew I had to be part of what was happening here today in regard to the Sexual Assault Survivor Bill of Rights.” He added, “If you know what you can do, you can actually do something about it.”
Crews said he was at a party in 2016 when the head of the motion picture department at his then-agency twice grabbed his genitals — in front of his wife. His first reaction, Crews said, “was to be violent and I immediately held back.” Asked why, the former linebacker had a ready reply. “As a black man in America,” he said, “you only have a few shots at success, you only have a few chances to make yourself a viable member of the community. I’m from Flint, Michigan. I have seen many young black men who were provoked into violence: They were in prison or they were killed. They’re not here.”
Crews said it was his wife who counseled restraint, telling him if he ever had anyone try to push him into any situation, don’t do it — but don’t give up, Crews recalled. “She trained me and told me if this situation happens, let’s leave,” he said, “and the training worked because I did not go into my first reaction. The training worked. But the next day I went right to the agency and — I have texts, I have my own conversations — and I told them this is unacceptable.”
And when he asked the agency what they were going to do about the “predator roaming your halls,” Crews said he was given every assurance, “and then they disappeared.” (The man in question, Adam Venit of William Morris Endeavor, was demoted but not fired.)
“The assault lasted only minutes, but what he was effectively telling me while he held my genitals in his hand was that he held the power. That he was in control,” Crews said of the encounter with Venit.
The experience “encouraged me to come forward with my own experience and reflect on the cult of toxic masculinity,” he explained.
“I’m not a small or insecure man but in that moment and in the time that followed I’ve never felt more emasculated,” Crews said. Watching women step forward as part of the #MeToo movement, he added, “this shame washed over me again and again and I knew I had to act.” And speak out he has — both as a victim and a man in a position to do something about it.
And though he came to Congress as one man Tuesday, Crews insisted he stands on the proverbial shoulders of many. “I sit here before you just as an example because a lot of people don’t believe that a person like me could actually be victimized, and what happened to me has happened to many, many other men in Hollywood, and since I came forward with my story I’ve had thousands and thousands of men come to me and say, ‘Me too — this is my story.’”