Fear of retribution on his career prevented him from coming forward sooner
A few weeks ago, Terry Crews came forward on Twitter to share his story of sexual assault. Though we are no doubt in the middle of a major awakening in terms of how society and employers treat female victims of sexual assault, it’s important to remember that men can be victimized this way too. During an appearance on Good Morning America, Crews named his abuser.
During his initial tweet thread, Crews kept mum on names but went into disturbing detail about the “high level Hollywood executive” who grabbed his genitals at a public function.
While speaking with Michael Strahan, Crews named Adam Venit, the powerful head of the motion picture department at the William Morris Endeavor.
“I was assaulted by Adam Venit, who is the head of the motion picture department at Williams Morris Endeavor, one of the biggest agencies in the world, period,” Crews said.
“He’s Adam Sandler’s agent, he’s Sylvester Stallone’s agent, he’s Eddie Murphy’s agent,” Crews explained. “He’s connected to probably everyone I know in the business. But this is the thing — I did not know this man. I’ve never had a conversation with him. Ever.”
He explained he was with his wife at a Hollywood party in February last year, where he encountered Venit — whom he says he’d never met prior to this occasion. He said Venit approached him and was making obscene gestures with his tongue.
“I’m looking and I’m like, is this a joke?” Crews said. “And he comes over to me, I stick my hand out and he literally takes his hand and puts it and squeezes my genitals. And I jump back like, ‘Hey, hey,’ and he’s still sticking his tongue out and I’m like, ‘Dude what are you doing? What are you doing?’ And then he comes back again!”
It’s stomach-churning to hear the story, which is made even more nauseating by the fact that Venit felt powerful enough to do something like this in public, and right in front of Crews’ wife, no less.
“I pushed him back, and he bumps into other partygoers, and he starts giggling and laughing,” Crews recalls. “And let me tell you, I have never felt more emasculated, more objectified. I was horrified.”
He says he told his friend and fellow party attendee Adam Sandler to come grab Venit and get him away from him. “It’s so bizzare, I wake up every morning and wonder ‘Did this really happen?'”
Which is probably a common thought among many victims of sexual assault — when something so forceful happens to you out of nowhere, and you’re powerless in the moment, it doesn’t even seem real.
Crews credits his wife’s presence for not retaliating with violence against Venit over the assault. He became emotional remembering that once they were in the car, she told him “I’m proud of you, I’m proud of you.”
“If I would have just retaliated, in defense, I would be in jail right now and that’s one thing I knew, being a large black African American man in America, I would have immediately be seen as a thug, but I’m not a thug,” Crews said.
Venit has since been placed “on leave” at the William Morris Endeavor and hasn’t publicly addressed the assault allegations.
Crews admits he didn’t come forward sooner because he was afraid of the repercussions doing so would have on his career — like many of the other victims in Hollywood, abusers know how to wield their power and ensure they are able to continue getting away with their abuse. He said Venit’s reaction was along the lines of a “Who’s going to believe you?” look, which just reinforced his fear of career retribution.
“I will not be shamed. I did nothing wrong.”
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