Michael Key, 20, who began his studies at Morehouse College in 2017, wants criminal charges against a college employee he's accused of sexual misconduct. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED.

Student wants assault charges against Morehouse College employee

A Morehouse College student who made accusations last week on Twitter that he was sexually harassed and assaulted by an employee will seek criminal charges against the worker, his lawyers said Monday.

The alleged actions by the Morehouse employee, which the student said included unwanted hugs and touching, were an assault, the attorneys, Tiffany M. Simmons and Corey Martin, told reporters at a news conference. The lawyers said they plan to discuss their complaints with law enforcement. The Atlanta college, they said, violated federal guidelines by inadequately responding to the student’s complaints in January 2018 about what he said was physical, as well as verbal, misconduct.

Simmons, who said she was hired last weekend, said she hasn’t contacted any law enforcement agencies, but plans to file a police complaint.

The student, Michael Key, last week posted three videos on his Twitter page with allegations against the employee, DeMarcus Crews, the college’s interim director of housing and residential education, that have gone viral and gained national attention. The first video was viewed more than 90,000 times in less than 24 hours.

Morehouse on Wednesday announced an investigation and that Crews was put on unpaid administrative leave. The all-male, historically black college of about 2,200 students said Thursday it has expanded its investigation to include other unnamed employees. The college said in a statement Monday an unidentified third party is investigating Key’s complaint and that it “will investigate and respond swiftly to any allegation of sexual misconduct.”

> RELATED: Morehouse sexual misconduct complaint expands

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution does not publish the names of accusers of alleged sexual misconduct without their consent. Key has agreed to be identified.

“In order for Morehouse to be a good school, we have to expose and reveal the ugly truths and we have to fix the ugly truths because there are going to be more people who experience this and when they experience this, it only makes Morehouse look bad,” Key said.

Salena Brewer (left) stands in support of her son Michael Key (right) as he speaks during a news conference at a law office in Douglasville on Monday. Attorney Tiffany Simmons is representing Key, a Morehouse College student, who alleges an employee of the college was sexually inappropriate with him. ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Simmons, the lead counsel, gave reporters an email dated Jan. 30, 2018, from a Morehouse official to two administrators detailing a conversation with Key under the subject line “Title IX complaint.” Schools that receive federal aid are required under Title IX regulations to investigate sex discrimination or misconduct complaints.

The email said Key felt “uncomfortable” around Crews because Crews gave him hugs that weren’t warranted and used vulgar language involving sex. Key and his attorneys said although Crews subsequently stayed away from him, the student’s complaint went nowhere.

Attorney Tiffany Simmons, shown during Monday’s news conference in Douglasville, is representing Michael Key, a Morehouse College student, who alleges an employee of the college was sexually inappropriate with him. ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Simmons said she’s been contacted by three families making similar claims about Crews and other Morehouse officials. After Key’s social media posts, another student responded with a tweet saying he also was sexually harassed and felt the college didn’t respond adequately.

Key, 20, a sociology major, said he posted the videos last week because he felt depressed. Key, who was joined by his mother at the news conference, said his parents comforted him. The student said his spirits were lifted further by classmates and strangers who offered their support.

> RELATED: U.S. to change school sexual misconduct investigation process

Key said Monday he hopes the videos and the attention they’ve received will encourage more students who’ve been mistreated to report sexual misconduct, and for the college to take such complaints more seriously.

“I want men to be more comfortable in speaking about this,” said Key, a rising junior, who said he plans to transfer from Morehouse.

Anfernee K. Morgan, a rising Morehouse senior, attended the news conference.

“I’m just here as a brother to support another brother,” he said.

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