“I have never felt more emasculated, more objectified. I was horrified,” 49-year-old Brooklyn Nine-Nine actor Terry Crews said on Good Morning America Wednesday, naming high powered Hollywood agent Adam Venit, head of the Motion Picture Department at William Morris Endeavor, as the man who grabbed his genitals at a party.
Crews, a 6’3”, 245-pound former pro football player (drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in 1991), said he had a #MeToo experience reading about the accusations of sexual harassment against Harvey Weinstein. In a series of tweets on Oct. 10, came out as having been groped at a “Hollywood function” last year by a “high-level Hollywood executive.” He credited his wife, Rebecca King-Crews, who witnessed the assault, with keeping him calm and not physically responding, sensing that he would be the one who wound up in jail.
“When the Weinstein thing started happening, I got PTSD,” Crews told GMA host Michael Strahan about the incident in February 2016. “I was going, ‘Oh my god, this exact thing happened to me. I understand why they won’t come forward.’ And I’m gonna tell you, a lot of times people go, ‘Why didn’t you come forward sooner?’ When a person of forward breaks that boundary and violates that boundary, you’re a prisoner of war.”
He said people criticized him for not coming forward and naming Venit sooner. “I will not be shamed. I did nothing wrong, nothing,” Crews said.
Crews looked almost like he was reliving the moment as he described how the married agent he’d never met, a powerhouse at the William Morris Endeavor (WME) agency that represented him, treated him as a sexual object.
“I’m looking at him, and he’s basically staring at me,” Crews said. “And he’s sticking his tongue out, and it’s overtly sexual kind of tongue moves. I’m sitting there like, it’s a party, it’s packed, the whole thing, and I’m looking like, is this a joke?”
Crews expressed the absurdity of the situation: “I don’t understand, it was actually so bizarre, and he keeps coming over to me and I stick my hand out, and he literally takes his hand, and puts it, and squeezes my genitals. I jumped back, like ‘Hey! Hey!’ and he’s still licking his tongue out, and all this stuff and I go, ‘Dude, what are you doing? What are you doing?’”
But Venit’s not done. “Then he comes back again, and he just won’t stop,” Crews said. “Then I really got forceful, pushed him back. He bumps into all the other party-goers and he starts giggling and laughing — and let me tell you, I have never felt more emasculated, more objectified. I was horrified.”
Three years earlier, his wife warned him to be careful, telling him he was a target and should never respond with violence. “You can be baited and pulled,” she told him. The couple left with Crews handing his rage.
“That’s one thing I knew — being a large African American man in America, I would immediately be seen as a thug,” Crews told Strahan.
Crews subsequently filed a report with the Los Angeles Police Department alleging that Venit sexually assaulted him. “People need to be held accountable. This is an abuse of power. He’s one of the most powerful men in Hollywood,” Crews told Strahan.
WME told ABC News that the agent “has been suspended following the internal investigation into the matter.”
One aspect of Crews’ story that hasn’t been much discussed is how he felt “emasculated” and feared fighting back because the assault was at the hands of a white man on a black man—all of which underscores the ongoing societal acceptance that women and people are automatically in a “lesser” position, especially if the perpetrator has power.
“I decided not 2 take it further becuz I didn’t want 2b ostracized— par 4 the course when the predator has power n influence,” Crews tweeted Oct. 10. “I let it go. And I understand why many women who this happens to let it go. Who’s going 2 believe you? ( few) What r the repercussions?(many) Do u want 2 work again? (Yes) R you prepared 2b ostracized?(No). I love what I do. But it’s a shame and the height of disappointment when someone tries to takes advantage of that.”
He offered comfort to other victims. “You are not alone,” he tweeted. “Hopefully, me coming forward with my story will deter a predator and encourage someone who feels hopeless.”
On GMA, he shared how coming forward gave him a sense of relief. “It freed me. I knew instantly, I had to tell my story, so that other people can be free.”