Terry Crews testifies before Senate about sexual assault, says he won't be in 'Expendables 4'
With the rise of the #MeToo movement, victims of sexual assault have came forward to share their stories. Most of these victims have been women, but let's not forget, men can be victims too. Even super strong men like actor Terry Crews.
Last November, Crews appeared on Good Morning America and revealed that he was a victim of sexual assault. The actor alleged that Adam Venit, the head of the Motion Picture Department at William Morris Endeavor, one of the most powerful agencies, groped his privates at a Hollywood function.
"I stick my hand out and he literally takes his hand and puts it and squeezes my genitals. I jump 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?’ and then he comes back again.
"He just won’t stop ... I have never felt more emasculated, more objectified. I was horrified. It’s so bizarre. I wake up every morning wondering, ‘Did this really happen?'"
On Tuesday morning Crews was called to testify at a hearing about the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights, which Deadline notes "provides new rights for victims of sexual violence in the federal criminal code." When the actor appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee, he gave emotional testimony about his experience. He said the sexual assault "lasted only minutes," but his abuser "was effectively telling me, while he held my genitals in his hand, that he held the power. That he was in control."
You probably know Crews best from his comedic roles in Old Spice commercials and the sitcom Brooklyn Nine Nine. But he also had a big role in Sylvester Stallone's geriatric action movie franchise The Expendables. Well, don't expect to see Crews blowing stuff up in the next chapter. During his testimony, he revealed that Expendables producer Avi Lerner asked him to drop his civil lawsuit, in order to appear in the fourth film. And that ain't happening.
When asked if he had a role in Expendables 4, Crews said, "No. Simply because this same producer is under his own … investigation. Abusers protect abusers — and this is one thing I had to decide, whether I was going to draw the line on. Am I going to be a part of this or am I gonna take a stand, and there are projects I had to turn down."
(A woman identified as 'Jane Roe' sued Lerner for sexual harassment, hostile work environment and gender discrimination. He denied the allegations, calling them "all lies" and "a joke.")
Crews explained to the Senate that Hollywood has corruption built into the culture, which can turn dreams into nightmares. "Hollywood definitely has been a problem area, simply because so many people view this as a dream. And what happens is, someone has power over these dreams. And what happens also is that you get tricked into thinking that this type of behavior is expected, that it’s part of the job, that this harassment, abuse, even rape is part of your job description."
Since the alleged crime was outside of the statute of limitations, Crews was unable to file a criminal lawsuit against Venit. At first, he was reluctant to come forward. "I probably would have been laughed out of the police station," said Crews. “A year later, once the #MeToo movement took full swing, it was safe to come out. When you are victimized, you are now behind enemy lines and you are trying to find a way out … You’re trying to find your way to safety. No one around is going to help you. No one is going to believe you."
These statements surely ring true to victims of sexual assault. But it's rare to hear them from men. Crews explained that when men victimize men, acts of sexual assault frequently get dismissed as "horseplay" or "a joke." Victims might not come forward because they're embarrassed, or afraid of getting blacklisted, or they may be worried about seeing as less than a man. Crews hopes his testimony will inspire victims to speak out.
"What happened to me has happened to many many other men in Hollywood, and since I came forward with my story I have had thousands and thousands of men come to me and say ‘Me too, this is my story. But I did not have the confidence, or I did not feel safe enough, to come out.' Because what happens is you get blacklisted, your career is in danger — after that, no one wants to work with you."
Venit was suspended from William Morris Endeavor for thirty days. During that period, the agency conducted an investigation into the sexual assault allegations. Venit still works there as an agent, although he was demoted, losing the title of head of the Motion Picture Department. Crews' civil suit is ongoing.