A former youth and college director for the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP is casting a harsh spotlight on the national organization over its handling of her claim of sexual harassment against her former supervisor.
Jazmyne Childs held a news conference Wednesday where said she was sexually harassed and touched by her then supervisor, whom she identified as the Rev. Curtis Gatewood, a man currently running to become head of the state chapter, the Associated Press reports.
Childs recounted a February 2017 incident when she said Gatewood made unwanted physical contact, according to the news wire:
“As I was unpacking food and setting it up on the table, I felt someone’s breath on my neck,” she said, crying and struggling to maintain her composure. “And then I felt him press his penis against my buttocks.”
She said she saw her supervisor, Gatewood, and yelled, “Why are you hovering over me? That’s gross.”
He said he was looking for a receipt and “stormed out,” she said.
Childs was joined Wednesday by civil rights activist Rev. William Barber, who headed the state chapter at the time of her employment.
After receiving her complaint, Barber hired an outside investigator who found Childs to be a credible witness and that Gatewood was not, according to the AP.
Childs says Gatewood should not be allowed to be a member of the organization and that she has written to the NAACP demanding his ouster, but that so far, the NAACP has failed to do so.
“First, I was violated by the Rev. Curtis Gatewood, then violated by the national NAACP,” Childs said, the AP reports.
The NAACP national chapter did not respond to the AP’s request for comment, but Barber, who is currently a member of the national board and leader of a different organization, the Poor People’s Campaign, said he was “ashamed” of the national organization’s inaction.
Just last year, during its national convention, the NAACP passed a resolution in support of the #MeToo movement and pledged that volunteer and staff members would be trained to “recognize and address” incidents of sexual harassment in the workplace.
Both Childs and Barber said the national organization was failing women within its own ranks.
The NAACP, Childs said, “cannot fight racism and protect sexism.”
For his part, Gatewood, in a Facebook message, denied the accusation, WRAL reports:
“I will not participate in any attack of the accuser or any NAACP family member in the media. I can only assure you, I have never sexually harassed anyone. I have a long history of working professionally in the workplace, and toward the uncompromising pursuit of justice throughout the community.”