Morehouse College, the country's only historically black men’s college, is investigating claims of sexual harassment by a male faculty member after two students posted videos online alleging he had preyed on them on the school's Atlanta campus.
Michael Key, a 20-year-old rising junior, uploaded his now-viral video on Tuesday night, alleging he had been sexually harassed by DeMarcus Crews, who works as interim director of housing and residential education, according to his LinkedIn profile.
“I was just busting out crying, I had a breakdown,” Key told BuzzFeed News of his decision to go public with his allegations. “My emotions were all over the place to the point where I couldn’t control them anymore.”
In his video, Key also complained that the school had ignored him since he first attempted to notify officials in January 2018.
The video has since been retweeted by thousands of people and been viewed more than half a million times.
Morehouse President David Thomas announced Wednesday that Crews had been placed on administrative leave as school officials launched a formal investigation. Crews did not respond to repeated requests for comment for this story.
In his first media interview since his story went viral, Key told BuzzFeed News he first met Crews during orientation week in the fall semester of 2017 when he was a freshman. “He gave me his card [and] told me if I needed anything to contact him,” Key said. “After that, I noticed he was a lot nicer to me than other students.”
Key said he later became distressed when the staffer physically touched him, sometimes in the presence of other students.
“He would pinch on my cheeks, hug me, do things that made me uncomfortable,” he said, adding that this happened both “public and in private.”
In his video, Key said Crews would try to force him to come out about his sexuality and would tell him things like he needed “dick.”
Key said he became depressed because he didn’t know how to control the situation and felt Crews was “someone who had a lot of power on campus.”
“I was losing weight and stuff like that because I wasn’t eating,” said Key. “I just made it my goal to avoid him the following semester.”
He said he later found the confidence to tell Crews he was invading his personal space and ultimately began avoiding him altogether because he felt Crews wasn’t listening.
In January 2018, Key said he made the decision to issue a formal complaint to the school’s Title IX office, where students are supposed to file accusations of sexual assault or harassment. But he said the meetings kept getting canceled.
“They’re supposed to make sure there’s justice served for the students and not justice served for the administration, meaning not protection for the administration,” Key said. “Their office definitely failed myself and the rest of the students.”
After Key went public on Twitter with his allegations, another student said in a video he’d been the victim of harassment from Crews. BuzzFeed News contacted this student for an interview but did not receive a response.
“I remember that one time he said to me, ‘All the girls want your pussy, huh,’” said the student in his video, “implying that these men at Morehouse College were sexually interested in me.”
Like Key, the other student said Crews would always turn the conversation to sex, seemingly in jest.
In his communication to students on Wednesday, the Morehouse president pledged to investigate the claims.
“It is a top priority of mine to ensure students and staff feel safe, respected and fairly treated at Morehouse,” said Thomas.
Thomas said a senior staffer had contacted the two students to speak with them and offer support, but as of Thursday afternoon, Key said no one from the college had reached out to him directly regarding his claims.
“I haven’t gotten any direct calls, any direct emails, any apology from the president personally,” Key said.
Still, Key told BuzzFeed News he’s glad his claims are now being taken seriously.
“I feel so much better,” he said, “even though I’m aware there’s a lot more healing.”