On Wednesday, a former state NAACP employee made a tearful statement at a news conference, describing how she was allegedly sexually harassed by a high-profile NAACP member.
According to ABC11, Jazmyne Childs says that in 2017, she was in a dark room preparing for a colleague’s surprise party when she felt Rev. Curtis Gatewood‘s breath on her neck. She says his private parts were also against her backside.
“I yelled loudly,” Childs said. “Why are you hovering over me? That’s gross. Move! He claimed he was looking for a receipt and then stormed out. I stood there feeling violated, ashamed and scared.”
Gatewood used to be the president of the Durham County and Alamance County NAACP chapters. He’s most known for coordinating the Historic Thousands on Jones Street rallies in Raleigh, North Carolina. He also served as Childs’ supervisor.
An independent investigation launched by the state NAACP determined that Gatewood violated the state chapter’s sexual harassment policy.
“It continues to haunt and hurt me,” said Childs, who was backed by her mother, brother, and members of the state NAACP, including the Rev. Dr. William Barber.
During the news conference in Raleigh, Barber went on to say, “I am a member of the national board. I’ve given my heart and soul to the organization and I am ashamed. This sister, this young lady is telling the truth. And those of you who malign her and line up with the perpetrator are further harassing her.”
During the investigation, Gatewood resigned, however, he’s still involved with the civil rights organization. He’s even running for state NAACP president. Since leaving the NAACP, Childs said she repeatedly asked the national leaders of the organization to create a formal sexual harassment policy and to end Gatewood’s membership. However, according to Childs, her requests were ignored.
“This is the most difficult thing that I have ever had to deal with. First, I was violated by Rev. Gatewood and then violated by the national NAACP,” Childs explained.
Gatewood told ABC11 that he stepped down from his position at the time to run for state NAACP president. He also explained in a statement: “I have never sexually harassed anyone. I have a long history of working professionally in the workplace. I have been one of the NC NAACP’s most consistent male advocates for women within the workplace, within the NAACP, and throughout our society. I will humbly stay the course.”
Gatewood said he will continue his campaign for state president, which has elections next week.
In a statement to NewsOne, a P.R. representative for the national NAACP addressed the allegations against Gatewood, saying:
“The NAACP takes all allegations of sexual harassment seriously. As an organization vested in uplifting and empowering the most vulnerable, we do not condone such behavior nor do we protect those engaging. On September 11, we received a formal complaint from members of the North Carolina State Conference alleging sexual impropriety. The complaint begins an internal disciplinary process. As such the NAACP will have no further public statements about this matter until the process is completed.”
According to ABC11, local North Carolina members are traveling to the national headquarters located in Baltimore on Thursday to demand a meeting with the president.