Jazmyne Childs has filed a lawsuit against the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), alleging that she was sexually harassed by her former boss, Rev. Curtis Gatewood.
According to the lawsuit, Childs was sexually harassed by Gatewood when she was a youth and college field secretary for the state conference in 2017. She said she first became afraid of him when he closed an office door to talk about a rally.
“While talking to her, he kept looking her up and down in a sexual and intimidating manner,” the lawsuit says. “Ms. Childs was afraid.” The harassment continued for several months.
On May 2, 2017, Childs was in a conference room with the lights off as she got ready for a co-worker’s farewell party. “Suddenly, she felt someone’s breath on the back of her neck and then felt someone press his penis up against her buttocks,” the lawsuit said, adding that Gatewood was behind her. “Why are you hovering over me? That’s gross, move!” Childs yelled, according to the lawsuit. Gatewood said he was looking for a receipt and left the room, it says.
Childs talked about the harassment she endured at a news conference in September after she had written several letters to the NAACP President, Derrick Johnson. She said that he didn’t answer any of her letters.
Johnson suspended Gatewood from membership the day after the news conference. He also postponed the state conference elections, scheduled for October, which included a race for president between Gatewood and Rev. Anthony Spearman.
During the conference on Oct. 5, Johnson said he wasn’t aware of Childs’ accusations against Gatewood until he received a letter on Sept. 11. “He publicly scolded and rebuked Ms. Childs for going to the press and not handling the matter within the organization,” the lawsuit said. “Ms. Childs was present and heard President Johnson’s remarks.”
Gatewood resigned in June 2017, but continued to show up at events attended by Childs.
Childs resigned in August 2018 because she was afraid Gatewood would keep stalking and intimidating her.
The lawsuit accuses the NAACP of knowing about the harassment Childs endured and not doing anything to stop it. It asks for at least $15 million for her emotional and mental distress.