Actor and former NFL player Terry Crews testified before Congress on Tuesday about his experience allegedly being groped by a powerful Hollywood agent as part of a push to expand the “Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bills of Rights,” a bill signed into law by President Obama in 2016 that provides survivors with basic rights such as access to rape kits.
Appearing before a Senate committee, the former linebacker and Brooklyn Nine-Nine star said that he was assaulted by agent Adam Venit during a 2016 party he attended with his wife.
“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,” he said. “He did it twice in front of my wife.”
He didn’t retaliate against Venit out of fear that doing so would damage his career, Crews explained. He added that Venit later called him to apologize, claiming that he had been “drunk.” But after witnessing the #MeToo movement gather momentum — as well as the backlash faced by those who dared to speak out — Crews said he was inspired to come forward with his allegations in October. Venit has denied the allegations.
“I’m not a small or insecure man, but in that moment, and in this time following, I’ve never felt more emasculated,” said Crews, recalling the alleged assault. “As I watched women and colleagues in my industry come forward to share their #MeToo stories, this shame washed over me again and I knew I needed to act.”
“A lot of people believe a person like me can’t be victimized,” he continued. “But what happened to me has happened to many, many others.”
Crews, in his post-NFL career as an actor, has maintained the physique of a football player, as he alluded to in his remarks, leading some to wonder why he simply didn’t fight off the alleged assault. In fact, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California asked him precisely that question during the proceeding. “My first reaction was to be violent,” Crews told the senator. “And I immediately held back.”
“Why weren’t you? You’re a big powerful man,” Feinstein pointed out. “Why didn’t you …?” she trailed off, while making a gesture suggesting using his arms to push the alleged harasser away.
“Senator, as a black man in America … ” Crews began before pausing as he became emotional. “You only have a few shots at success,” he continued. “I’m from Flint, Michigan. I have seen many, many young black men who were provoked into violence and they were imprisoned — or they were killed,” he said, adding that for years his wife, Rebecca King-Crews, counseled him that should he ever find himself in a confrontation, he should refrain from resorting to violence. It was a powerful exchange, which you can seen below.
I asked @TerryCrews why he didn’t use his considerable strength to fight back when he was sexually assaulted. His answer is a powerful reminder of how victims are too often forced into silence to avoid damaging their careers or reputations. We need to hear the truth. pic.twitter.com/8xSxnhXj91
— Sen Dianne Feinstein (@SenFeinstein) June 26, 2018
Crews appeared at the Women in the World New York summit back in April to discuss this very topic. In one of the three-day event’s most resonant panels, Crews talked about the behavior he witnessed while in the NFL. “People have to understand that masculinity can be a cult,” Crews told the audience. “I believed simply because I was a man I was more valuable than my wife and the other women in my life,” he added, before coming to an awakening that has resulted in him being a self-professed feminist.
While the Survivors’ Bill of Rights was passed as a federal law in 2016, the measure was meant to be a benchmark for other states to pass their own similar laws — a step that few states have yet to take for themselves.
On Wednesday, Crews appeared on Good Morning America, where he was interviewed by another former NFL player, Michael Strahan, and continued the themes he touched on Tuesday.
— Good Morning America (@GMA) June 27, 2018
Read the full story at ABC News.