Terry Crews Takes Stand Against Agent He Claims Molested Him: "No, He Can't Go Back to Work"

Terry Crews - Teen Vogue 2018
Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Teen Vogue

"I think as men, what we need to do is to say, 'We're sorry.' Then we need to concede, and then we need to be accountable," the actor said Saturday at the Teen Vogue Summit.

Terry Crews opened up on Saturday about why he decided to reveal his molestation during the #MeToo movement last year and how he insisted on accountability for his alleged attacker.

At the "Man Up: Unpacking Masculinity" panel at the Teen Vogue Summit in Playa Vista, the actor spoke about toxic masculinity and why he needed to hold WME agent Adam Venit accountable after he allegedly molested Crews in 2016 by squeezing his genitals at a party.  

"I think as men, what we need to do is to say, 'We're sorry.' Then we need to concede, and then we need to be accountable," Crews said. "The person who molested me in 2016, I had already forgiven him. That wasn't the point. The point was like, 'Wait, wait, you're telling me you can just do it? You're telling me, wait, it's okay? You're not going to do anything?' He's like, 'No, I said I was sorry.' I said, 'But you're not going to correct this? I'm giving you guys millions of dollars and you're going to sit here and say, 'Well, Terry, you're less of a human being right now. Just a little bit less. Just say it.' I'm, like, 'I'm not saying that.'"

Crews felt he needed to speak out during the #MeToo movement because "you have to correct."

"You can't ignore me, I'm standing right here," he continued. "All of a sudden you're an activist. 'Hey, who does he think he is, standing here like you're a human being or something?' Yeah, I am. And all I did, this was not waving flags, this was not shooting guns in the air, this was like, 'No, no, no, you're not going to do that.' No, he can't go back to work. No. He can't go back to work and do that. No man, woman, child — you cannot molest anybody and go back to work."

Crews fired WME in November 2017 and then sued the agency and Venit in December. They settled the lawsuit in September, with Venit leaving WME. "It can't go unsaid that the inspiration every step of the way was started by the women who came forward first," Crews added.   

The Brooklyn Nine-Nine actor said he was indoctrinated into toxic masculinity throughout his career in the NFL and in entertainment, so he also had to hold himself accountable. 

"I've been involved in some of the most competitive, toxic environments you could probably ever be in. I mean, it's really bad. But I was also a card-carrying member. I'm guilty," Crews said. "Toxic masculinity wants you to do what I say. It's domination. And I was part of that. My daughter's here, and I don't want to put her on the spot because she's so beautiful, but I'm telling you she grew up in a different household, because my oldest daughter is 32, and I remember yelling, screaming, anger, domination. It had to be my way or the highway."

He continued: "The problem with this country is that the South has never conceded. It never said, 'We lost.' Never. And you will always have a problem without concession. Men need to concede. I, Terry Crews, had to concede. I had to say, 'I got this wrong,'" he said while choking up. "'I didn't do it right.' I had to correct. I had to make sure it's not only apologies; it's about accountability. I had to be accountable to my family, to my wife, to people that I did wrong in the past."

Crews went on to speak about the intersection of race and gender identities on the panel alongside Younger actor Nico Tortorella, YouTuber Jay Versace and Insecure actor Kendrick Sampson.

"In regards to my experience just over the course of the last year, my support has been from black women ... which was expected," he said. The actor pointed to the hyper-masculine standards for black men, like when rapper 50 Cent posted on Instagram to mock Crews' experience with sexual assault, doubting that Crews could be assaulted. 

"The truth was, I understand where he was coming from," Crews said. "If I would have picked [my attacker] up and threw him out the window, does that mean I wasn't assaulted? I'm still assaulted. ... The problem, this is the hard part, is that if I got assaulted, anyone could. And that's not acceptable."

"That, in the African-American community, has been a problem for years, where I, as a giant black man, am supposed to jump from here to there. ... The picture is impenetrable and indomitable, unbeatable. And the reality is it's everything opposite that," Crews said while alluding to police brutality and racial violence, adding that "black men are being killed by the millions."

The actor also talked about the type of roles he'd like to see change in Hollywood that perpetuate violence and expectations for men, which he implied can inspire mass shootings. 

"Sometimes you don't realize that you are living a narrative that's not your own," he said. "The way it is in America ... is that you're watching a Dirty Harry movie non-stop. What happens is, as a man, you're Dirty Harry and someone has been hurt, I go kill them. That's pretty much the story. And anything less than that, you're not even a man."

Continued Crews: "But in real life, you blow away real people. You blow away real lives, real women, real men, real boys, real girls. And what I discovered is this is not true. ... You can't get away with any of that. In fact, you have people who are kicking out windows in Vegas, blowing people way, living their own Dirty Harry movie. This is when you talk about these gun shootings and all this stuff. They view themselves as Dirty Harry, killing bad people. No more. No more."