Extra host A.J. Calloway is denying an accusation that he sexually assaulted a woman in 2006.
An investigation by The Hollywood Reporter reveals that author and domestic-violence activist Sil Lai Abrams claims Calloway sexually assaulted her in the back of a car in 2006. Abrams had previously reported the allegations — which Calloway’s representative has denied — to MSNBC, which declined to publish them because the vetting around the allegations didn’t meet their standards to publish a story.
THR says its detailed story is based on interviews with corroborating witnesses and review of documents, text messages, and court orders. It quotes Abrams as saying that after meeting Calloway for a potential work opportunity, the then-BET host, who was married, began hitting on her over a period of weeks. Though she says she tried to keep their relationship professional, he allegedly kept trying to turn the conversation to sex.
But things allegedly escalated after getting drinks one night in December. Abrams claims Calloway exposed himself while driving her home.
“Do you see what you do to me?” Abrams recalled Calloway saying as he unzipped his pants.
“Why don’t you do us both a favor and put that away?” she responded.
As they arrived at Abrams’ home, she claimed he began kissing her and once again exposed himself. Calloway allegedly tried to push her head into his lap and eventually grabbed her hand and masturbated himself.
Abrams said Calloway called her and apologized later that night. But after confiding in friends, Abrams filed a police report, and Calloway was arrested.
According to documents reviewed by THR, Calloway was charged with forcible touching and attempted sexual misconduct offenses.
In a statement from his lawyer, the high-profile Calloway this week denied the allegations of sexual assault and said they had been dismissed.
“I was disappointed to read the false allegations about me in The Hollywood Reporter. As I have maintained from the beginning, these allegations are not true. When I was first notified about these allegations by law enforcement more than a decade ago, I fully cooperated from the beginning and the case was dismissed,” he said. “THR chose to publish these meritless allegations without a thorough investigation of the facts. I intend to vigorously defend my reputation against these false accusations and will not let this cause further harm to my family.”
Abrams claimed she recorded an interview with MSNBC’s Joy Reid about her alleged experiences with Calloway and Russell Simmons, who she alleged raped her in 1994. (Simmons has extensively denied these claims).
“I needed to tell my story, to say his name out loud, to let people know what he had done to me,” Abrams said, adding that she wanted to dispel the “one-and-done idea of assault.”
But after months of rigorous legal vetting from MSNBC’s legal team, the story was eventually scrapped — despite Abrams providing what she claimed to be solid evidence.
“When MSNBC pursues any investigative story our mission is always to be as thorough as we can, to scrutinize sources and corroborate information before we report. Anything else falls short of our journalistic standards,” an MSNBC spokesperson told THR.
Abrams said she felt discouraged by the way her story was handled but it only fueled her motivation to speak out.
“They took away my voice,” she told THR. “I want people to understand how incredibly challenging this is, with a story like mine that’s highly sourced, with me doing this [advocacy] work in the public arena. And I can’t get my story out there? If I didn’t have those things, let’s be very clear, no one would know about this today. I’m speaking out for all the other women who have been silenced, to let them know it’s not their fault.”
Extra did not immediately return PEOPLE’s request for comment.