Danielle Young is accusing Jesse Jackson and John Singleton of unwanted touching on separate occasions

By Char Adams
November 07, 2017 01:10 PM

A New York-based journalist is speaking out about a pair of incidents in which legendary politician Jesse Jackson and famed director John Singleton allegedly touched her without consent or made sexual comments.

Danielle Young, a writer and producer with The Root, opened up about the encounters in a personal essay on the website, titled, “Don’t Let the Smile Fool You. I’m Cringing on the Inside”. Young wrote that she met Jackson while working for an unidentified media company, noting that he met with staffers for photos after giving a speech in a company conference room.

“I walked toward Jackson, smiling, and he smiled back at me. His eyes scanned my entire body. All of a sudden, I felt naked in my sweater and jeans,” Young wrote.

“As I walked within arm’s reach of him, Jackson reached out a hand and grabbed my thigh, saying, ‘I like all of that right there!’ and gave my thigh a tight squeeze.”

VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images; CJ Rivera/Getty Images

Photos of the encounter showed Young laughing as Jackson appeared to hold on to her. Young wrote that she was “shocked” by Jackson’s alleged conduct and gave a nervous giggle to mask how uncomfortable she was.

“I personally never wanted to say anything because my situation was just a thigh grab. Barely a blip on anyone’s radar, even my own,” Young continued. “My silence gave Jackson permission to continue grabbing at the next pair of thick thighs he liked. I’m hoping that my voice does the opposite.”

A rep for Jackson did not immediately respond to a request for comment from PEOPLE. But in a statement to The Root, a rep for the civil rights activist said that although Jackson “does not recall the meeting three years ago, he profoundly and sincerely regrets any pain Ms. Young may have experienced.”

Young could not be reached for comment.

Young wrote that the alleged incident involving Singleton, who directed classic films like Boyz n the Hood and 2 Fast 2 Furious, occurred over the summer at this year’s American Black Film Festival.

She alleges she had just finished interviewing the director when he grabbed her wrist to pull her close and said,
“Bring that juiciness over here.”

As he was about to leave, Singleton allegedly asked Young if she wanted a photo. She reluctantly agreed.

“He grabbed me around my waist and pulled me into him, saying, ‘Oooh, I’m gonna grab on tight to you.’ I laughed, because that’s what I do when I am uncomfortable, and snapped the photo,” she recalled.

She uploaded the photo to Instagram, and shared Singleton’s alleged comment in the photo’s caption. This, she wrote, was a defense mechanism.

“I normalized it and made myself believe it was no big deal,” she wrote. “Singleton was just being a man.”

Young added that she had long blamed herself for both the incidents, and closed the essay with a declaration.

“It’s not my fault if a man wants to turn a professional environment into a playground, flirting, grabbing and sexual talk,” she wrote. “I didn’t ask for the attention just by existing.”

She concluded: “No one asks for the attention just by being themselves.”

A spokesperson for Singleton did not immediately respond to a request for comment from PEOPLE.

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