Michael Key is the Morehouse College student who’s accused a former assistant dean, assistant director of student services and current member of the college’s housing “leadership team” of sexual assault.
Key, 20, had previously not been identified with his real name, rather it was his twitter handle that was used. Key posted a vidoe thread to Twitter where he accused DeMarcus Crews of sexual assault and sexual harassment. He said that despite repeated reports, administrators, including those tasked specifically under federal law with investigating sexual misconduct accusations at the historically black college in Atlanta, failed to “handle these complaints appropriately.”
In an email to Heavy, Key’s lawyer Tiffany Simmons called the college’s actions, or inaction, a “disgrace.”
Repeated requests for comment, via phone and email, to Morehouse College’s public information officer, the Title IX coordinator, and Crews, all went unanswered or were not returned. A few hours later, Morehouse College President Dr. David A. Thomas released a statement saying an investigation has been launched and that Crews was placed on an unpaid administrative leave.
But hours before that, a screenshot from another tweet appeared to show Crews saying he was resigning. Crews made his Twitter private Wednesday and shuttered his Facebook.
According to his LinkedIn, Crews lists work as a research scientist at Harvard and Purdue universities, more than four years with Morehouse in various mid- and-high level administrative roles including as an assistant dean. He graduated with a degree in chemistry from the Historically Black College in 2015, and in 2017, earned a master’s of education degree from Mercer College. According to his social media, now shuttered but viewed by Heavy and in some cases screenshots were taken, he is an ardent Christian.
Key is not the only person to come forward about sexual abuse at the hands of Crews. And at least three others have alleged they were sexually assaulted or sexually harassed while students by staff and in one case, a professor. The latter is a case pending in federal court where a student alleges a sociology professor sexually assaulted and harassed him during a study-abroad program. The student who filed a federal lawsuit against Morehouse, the professor, Robert B. Peterson, Ph.D., as well as the then Title IX director, claims to have been traumatized, hospitalized and then rebuked by the college. The lawsuit alleges Morehouse created a sexually hostile environment for some students.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. In Candid Videos, Key Said Crews Sexually Assaulted Him in 2018 & Nothing Was Ever Done Despite His Repeated Reports to Administrators
A few hours before his post, he wrote, “IDK what to do anymore …I have a story to tell and I really need AUC to support me through this.”
Saying he decided it was time, Key spoke into the camera.
“So I’m finally ready to tell what happened,” he beings. He says that beginning in the second semester of his freshman year in 2018, “I was assaulted by a staff member at Morehouse College by the name of the DeMarcus Crews.” He says the assault sent him into a “bad depression.” He says Crews was “trying to force me to come out about my sexuality, making advances at me, telling me I need dick. Comments like that,” adding Crews allegedly said: “Didn’t I tell your bitch ass to text me if you need anything?” Declining to go into the specifics of the assault, he alleges in the beginning, Crews touched him in unwanted ways.
“In my freshman year, he used to do sh*t to me, hugging on me, pinching my cheeks … just predatory sh*t like that.” Key said he didn’t tell his parents at the time, and shared the incident with only a few friends, adding it’s always bothered him and in fact, he said he’d broken down shortly before posting the video: “I just started breaking down crying today.”
Key says that he went to Morehouse College’s Title IX officer the day after the assault. “I told Title IX. I reported it the day after. I reported it,” but an administrator in that office Terraine Bailey, who he says has since left the college, was “condescending the whole time, acting like she didn’t care,” he says adding that she “canceled several meetings with me. I never heard anything back from her, come to find out she was fired. That whole semester, first semester of my sophomore year, I didn’t hear anything back. The following semester I was just noticing that I was smoking more, doing things I don’t do and I was fed up about it.”
So he finally called his parents.
2. After Contacting His Parents & Telling Them That Crews Sexually Assaulted Him, They Got in Their Car & Drove From Chicago to Atlanta
He called his parents in Chicago and told them what happened to him. They drove to Atlanta. There, he and his parents met with an administrator, Quisha Buggs, the Morehouse student success specialist. In that meeting, he says, Buggs assured the family “that everything would be handled.”
He said his “parents started breaking down crying,” and, worse yet, he says, “DeMarcus was in there while we were having this conversation.”
He says in the second video that he and his family contacted an attorney. He spoke to the next Title IX director, “Who said she would talk to the Provost about giving me academic accommodations for those past two semesters for how they blew everything off.” But this administrator too was soon gone, he says. He says Morehouse completely ignored him.
“Morehouse continued to not respond to anything,” including repeated calls and repeated emails “with receipts.”
“I haven’t heard anything. This sh*t is really stressing me the f*ck out because I know there’s other students out there who have experienced some kind of sh*t from DeMarcus Crews, so I just really need y’all to be my side and get Morehouse to hear me because I’m tired of this sh*t.”
The reaction on Twitter was largely supportive.
And angry at the college’s alleged refusal to address the sexual assault and sexual harassment he describes.
3. Key’s Lawyer Tiffany Simmons Said ‘Men Who Are Victims of Sexual Assault & Harassment Must be Protected When They Have the Courage to Share #MeToo’
Simmons called Morehouse College’s inaction in the case of Key’s accusations against Crews contemptible.
“This story has pierced the hearts of graduates,” of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. “It is a disgrace that a black institution of higher learning would allow this to happen and it be swept under a rug,” she said.
Simmons claims that “for nearly two years, Morehouse has made public statements on its commitment to handle complaints of sexual misconduct with greater procedures and a zero tolerance policy. Yet, here we are again with evidence that student safety and physical and mental well-being are not a priority,” she said.
Simmons said that Crews should have been fired and police should have been called.
“A faculty or staff member who is accused of multiple accounts of sexual misconduct should be immediately removed and reported to law enforcement to send a clear message that sexual misbehavior is not tolerated,” she said.
“Men who are victims of sexual assault and harassment must be protected when they have the courage to share #MeToo.”
4. A Student Sued Morehouse After He Alleged a Professor Repeatedly Sexually Harassed Him & the School Refused to Take Action. The Case is in Federal Court
In the case first brought in Georgia state court, the claim was under Title IX “arising out of sexual harassment and assault,” the details are graphic.
The young Morehouse student had just set out with other students, under the tutelage and guardianship of Dr. Robert B. Peterson, a sociology professor at the College, for Brazil as part of the Morehouse Pan-African Global Experience study abroad program led by Paterson. The suit claims that on the flight from Miami, Peterson purchased alcohol for the student, who was underage, and then proceeded to fondle him on the flight. And the complaint alleges that the sexual misconduct continued while in Brazil and that others witnessed the sexual harassment.
When they returned to Morehouse, the misconduct was reported but never acted on in earnest, the suit alleges. And, after agreeing to make special accommodations for the student, who the lawsuit says suffered as a result of the trauma and was hospitalized, the college instead appeared to retaliate against the student and, the suit claims, to his day has not released his transcripts, saying he owes the school money.
Peterson was said to have been placed on leave in 2016/2017, but his name appears on the 2018 course catalog for the College.
Also worthy of note is that one of the defendants named in the lawsuit is the woman who was the Title IX coordinator, Terraine Bailey, the same woman the student on Twitter said he first spoke to but who then inexplicably was no longer with the college. Bailey filed a motion in federal court to be removed from the suit as a defendant claiming that she was not at fault in the handling, or mishandling, of the Brazil case, but her employer Morehouse College was. It appears that at the time she made that motion coincides generally with the time frame the student who’s accused Crews of sexual assault, says she disappeared.
The lawsuit names the now former college president John Silvanus Wilson as a defendant. Wilson left the College in 2017 as the original lawsuit was first brought in state court before being moved to a federal court in Atlanta.
5. Crews, Who Was Reported to Have Resigned & Who Did Not Return Heavy Calls & Messages For Comment, Has an Impressive Resume on LinkedIn
On his LinkedIn account, Crews shares a notable curriculum vitae that includes work as a summer research scientist at Harvard and Purdue universities, and in the span of less than four years employed by Morehouse, has held four mid- to -high level administrative roles including as an assistant dean. Crews graduated from Morehouse with a degree in chemistry in 2015, and in 2017, earned a master’s of education degree from Mercer College.
According to his social media, he’s from Albany, Georgia and is an ardent Christian.
Some say Crews has been previously accused and his alleged sexual misconduct has never been addressed or dealt with, it’s alleged.
“The person mentioned in this video has been accused by multiple students. I’ve heard many of their stories and @Morehouse Title IX has done absolutely nothing to protect their students, only the institution. There is no accountability or transparency.”
Morehouse College president Thomas released a statement late Wednesday afternoon saying an investigation has been launched.