Triangle woman comes forward to accuse high-profile NAACP member of sexual harassment

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- For the first time publicly on Wednesday, a former state NAACP employee, tearfully described how she was allegedly sexually harassed by high-profile NAACP member the Rev. Curtis Gatewood.

In 2017, Jazmyne Childs said, she was in a dark room preparing for a colleague's surprise party when she felt Gatewood's breath on her neck and his private parts 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, a former president of the Durham County and Alamance County NAACP, chapters, and best known for coordinating the Historic Thousands on Jones Street rallies in Raleigh, was Childs' then-supervisor.

The state NAACP launched an independent investigation concluding Gatewood violated the state chapter's sexual harassment policy.

"It continues to haunt and hurt me," Childs said, who was joined by her mother, brother, and members of the state NAACP, including the Rev. Dr. William Barber.

"I am a member of the national board. I've given my heart and soul to the organization and I am ashamed," Barber said during the news conference in Raleigh.

"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," he said.

During the investigation, Gatewood resigned -- but he is still active with the civil rights organization. In fact, he is running for state NAACP president.

Since leaving the organization, Childs said she has repeatedly asked the national NAACP to create a formal sexual harassment policy and ban Gatewood from membership.

Childs said 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 said.

Gatewood told ABC11 that he resigned to run for state NAACP president.

On Wednesday, he released a statement, which reads, in part:

"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 his campaign for state president will continue. The election is next week.

The national NAACP released the following statement:

"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 in such behavior. On September 4 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 complete."

Some local members are traveling to the national headquarters in Baltimore on Thursday to demand a meeting with the president.
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