'I know the shame associated with the assault. I wanted these survivors to know that I believed them, I supported them, and that this happened to me too.'
Terry Crews spoke with unflinching honesty and conviction before the Senate Judiciary Committee recently, describing in detail his alleged sexual assault at the hands of a senior Hollywood agent. The Brooklyn Nine Nine was one of the first males to share their own experiences as the #MeToo movement picked up speed in Hollywood.
As he shared his experience in defence of the Sexual Assault Survivor’s Bill of Rights, he shared how agent Adam Venit groped him. (Venit has since denied the claims.) He said, ‘The assault lasted only minutes, but what he was telling me as he held my genitals in his hand was that he held the power. That he was in control.’
Terry shared his story in October last year, when he said that the wave of Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment allegations were giving him ‘PTSD’. In a Twitter thread, he described how a ‘high level Hollywood executive’ groped him in full view of his wife. He resisted the urge to attack the man and instead left the party with his wife because he believed he ‘would have been in jail’ if he had acted on the impulse and it would have affected his career.
Senator Diane Feinstein asked Terry to clarify again why he didn’t fight back, asking, ‘You’re a big powerful man? Why didn’t you…’
She then mimed shoving somebody away.
Terry began, ‘Senator, as a black man in America…’
He trailed off, before the senator pressed him, ‘Say it as it is. I think it’s important.’
‘You only have a few shots at success,’ he continued. ‘You only have a few chances to make yourself a viable member of the community. I’m from Flint. I have seen many many young black men who were provoked into violence and they were imprisoned or they were killed and they’re not here. My wife, for years, prepared me. She said, ‘If you ever get goaded, if you ever get prodded, if you ever have anyone try to push you into any situation, don’t do it. Don’t be violent.’ And she trained me. I’ll be honest with you, it was the strength of my wife who trained me and told me if this situation happens, let’s leave. And the training worked because I did not go into my first reaction, I grabbed her hand, we left. But the next day I went right to the agency, right and I have texts, I have phone conversations and I said this is unacceptable.’
Crews shared the texts between himself and WME, the agency that Adam Venit works for, last December. He detailed what happened to a representative of the agency known only as Brad, describing how Venit appeared to be on drugs and grabbed his genitals – leading Adam Sandler to call him to apologise.
Terry filed a lawsuit against Venit and his agency shortly after coming forwards with his story, but Venit was never charged. According to USA Today, the Los Angeles Country district attorney’s office said that because Adam Venit never made skin-to-skin contact and no restraint was involved that it was not a felony charge.
When the case was then passed over to a city attorney for a misdemeanour charge, it was revealed that the statute of limitations on the case had expired as it had occurred the year before. Terry revealed that as a result of the lawsuit, a producer on the film franchise The Expendables (three of which he has previously starred in) called his manager to ask him to drop the case ‘in order for [him] to be in the fourth instalment of the movie’.
He continued, ‘And if I didn’t, there would be trouble.’
When a senator asked if he would be starring in the film, Terry responded, ‘No…simply because this same producer is under his own sexual assault investigation and abusers protect abusers. This is one thing I had to decide, whether I was going to draw the line on whether I’m going to be a part of this or am I going to take a stand. And there are projects I had to turn down.’
Terry explained how difficult it was for him to come forwards with his own story, saying, ‘I was told over and over that this was not abuse. This was just a joke. This was just horseplay. But I can say one man’s horseplay is another man’s humiliation. And I chose to tell my story and share my experience to stand in solidarity with millions of other survivors around the world. That I know how hard it is to come forward. I know the shame associated with the assault.’
He finished, ‘I wanted these survivors to know that I believed them, I supported them, and that this happened to me too.’