Exclusive: Marsha’s House residents detail claims of sexual violence & harassment

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BRONX, NEW YORK — Famed homeless shelter (named after Marsha P. Johnson… the pioneering icon) is in the headlines this week. On Tuesday, we managed to stumble upon information and numerous complaints that security guards at the shelter “are grossly violating residents especially trans residents”.

First Lady Chirlane McCray tours the newly opened Marsha’s House, a shelter for LGBTQ youth in the Bronx on Tuesday, March 21, 2017. Joining the First Lady were Department of Social Services Commissioner Steve Banks, Council Member Ritchie Torres, and Mitchell Netburn, President and CEO, Project Renewal. Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

Due to the confidentiality of the information obtained we are not at liberty to share how it was obtained; by whom, or in what capacity.We intend to exercise our right as members of the media to protect our source(s) at all costs.

The story goes pretty deep. The unnamed resident [who we will not publicly identify for their safety] have contacted legal services in a desperate bid to quell the growing problem at Marshas’ House. In private records obtained by The Daily News, we’ve confirmed that multiple trans women have complained to officials at the shelter about male security guards “groping us when they should be using their wands to search us during their usual routine. Instead they use their hands; touch our breasts, grope our asses, and pretend like they don’t know some of us still have our penis”.

On Tuesday, I accidentally met the latest victim whom disclosed their story while in my presence but I did not disclose to them that I am a reporter. Like many young trans women, she seemed troubled and terrified at the idea that speaking up for herself could cost her the only home that she has.

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The complaints date back at least 4 years until present day. With previous knowledge we were able to confirm that under normal routines, residents are required to go through a massive metal detector upon entry into the building. More often than not, the guards present are often cis men.

I first began investigating Marsha’s House late last year after a dear friend first informed me of the disgusting actions on behalf of their staff. Since then, I have encountered various people of all kinds who have made unbelievable allegations.

When my investigation first began, I, met a young woman who told me at the time that “During my time at Marshas’ House I was groped; harassed, and made to reveal my penis to security guards who accused of hiding a weapon in my pants”. The same sentiment with all of the other women has been echoed ever since.

“Some of the residents are sex workers — which there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But these male security guards are taking advantage of that and paying these young women outside of the shelter to fuck them. They hassle them upon entry demanding that they meet them somewhere off grounds and then it goes from then on. Staff does nothing when they’re informed of it because they’re complacent. We are prisoners in an abusive shelter that has taken advantage of our very existence with no regard for anything”. Unidentified resident, 22, a former sex worker, October 2018

“I feel like I want to die. They told me I was better off letting them grope and touch me because they’d take care of me” Unidentified resident, 24, sexual assault survivor (2016).

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“They groped me repeatedly; touched my behind, and often use their hands in my vagina area rather than their wand.” Unidentified resident, 26, August 2019.

“One of the guards who lied to me about his name blackmailed me into meeting him away from the shelter in 2016. He told me he had recognised me from the piers, and, that he had wanted to talk to me about something. He sexually assaulted me that night after he shoved his hands up my skirt multiple times and then forced me to perform oral sex on him. He is still employed by the shelter to this day” Unidentified resident, 25, Fall 2016

The above resident was transferred from the shelter that year. They were told that for cautionary measures on behalf of the shelter that they were being moved. The man in question remains on staff and is currently a full-time employee.

This is Part 1 in our 5 part investigation into the troubled and ailing shelter meant to help young LGBTQ people.


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