Milan Taylor, long looked up to as a leader for local youth in Rockaway as the founder of the Rockaway Youth Task Force (RYTF), is now facing accusations of using his position to “prey on girls and young women of color,” according to former RYTF member Andrea Colon, who released a message alleging that he abused and raped her.
On December 30, Colon took to social media to write, “MILAN TAYLOR is a violent predator who has a decade-long history of using his position at the RYTF as a platform to prey on girls and young women of color. The abusive and toxic behaviors exhibited by Milan Taylor became unbearable. Milan Taylor groomed, manipulated, gaslighted, bullied, harassed, sexually, emotionally, and verbally abused me. At the age of 17, on February 24th, 2018, after midnight at the RYTF Office, Milan Taylor gave me alcohol and raped me despite my pleas. His predatory actions have had a detrimental impact on my mental health, causing episodes of depression and anxiety, which has only added to the inherent traumas of being a woman of color.”
Taylor founded the RYTF in 2011, serving as its Executive Director since its founding. Taylor also held a position as a member of Community Board 14 since 2013.
Colon says after she and fellow RYTF member Tamera Jacobs made attempts to hold Taylor accountable by urging him to resign from his position as Executive Director of the youth organization, she resigned herself from her position as Lead Organizer on September 23, 2020, along with Jacobs.
“Tamera and I believe that young girls and women of color deserve a space where we feel safe, respected, affirmed, and valued. We are dedicated to fostering a space that is truly by and for women of color. Under Milan’s leadership, this was literally impossible, and we were forced to submit our resignations as we feared for our physical safety and preserve our mental health,” Colon explained in her post. Colon added that she recently found the courage to address her allegations, adding, “I have finally found the strength to speak up about my experience in efforts to stop the ongoing mental and sexual abuse that he has never been held accountable for. I publicly stayed quiet for so many years for the well-being and preservation of the organization.”
Colon’s statements quickly garnered traction on social media, with other RYTF members showing support and coming out with their own claims of Taylor’s behavior toward them. Several local leaders also released statements in response to the allegations and pushed for investigation.
“These allegations against Milan Taylor are deeply troubling,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said. “The RYTF gives a platform for young women and men to amplify their voices, catalyze protests and movement, and produce change in their neighborhoods. I am very sorry for all the youth who endured insurmountable pain because of Milan’s actions. I am deeply saddened and heartbroken to learn young women were endangered and unsafe while working with the RYTF, and I believe the brave young women who came forward. There must be immediate thorough investigation.”
Congressman Gregory Meeks said, "I'm deeply disturbed by the accusations levied against Mr. Taylor by multiple young women. I strongly believe that we should listen to women and protect them at all cost. With such serious allegations, we cannot be silent and we must take action to ensure that young women are not abused, intimidated or taken advantage of by people that are supposed to be leaders in the community. There should be a swift and thorough investigation, and if these allegations are true, Mr. Taylor must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
"I am deeply disturbed to hear about the allegations involving the Rockaway Youth Task Force, an organization that mentors young people in the community,” Senator James Sanders said. “Anyone who does not understand that exploiting women is wrong needs to go. I encourage anyone else who has been victimized to come forward. These charges are serious and need to be investigated to ensure appropriate action is taken and justice is served."
Assemblyman Khaleel Anderson, a former member of the RYTF, said, “The allegations by young women of the RYTF against Milan R. Taylor has overwhelmed me with agonizing sadness. I commend the bravery of the survivors who already have come forward to share traumatic accounts. I denounce in the strongest terms possible the behaviors they have brought to light. There can be no excuse for workplace bullying, abuse or violence. RYTF was born to become a beacon of hope and promise for our young people seeking an avenue to improve our community. We all have an interest to make sure it remains a safe space for our young people of color. Our office has been working with law enforcement to investigate the reported allegations, and we are committed to continue that cooperation to see that justice is done.”
Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato shared her support saying, “I fully believe Andrea Colon’s account of Milan Taylor’s abuse and predatory behavior. I also commend her bravery in sharing this painful account, which I can only imagine hurt everyday she had to bear it alone. Andrea deserves swift and meaningful support and justice. Andrea’s truth is a disgusting account of a man who used his position of power to take advantage of young people who looked up to him, and used their dreams and passion for a sick and despicable purpose.”
Following Colon’s statements, many called for Taylor’s removal from the RYTF. According to a statement released by the organization on December 31, Taylor resigned from his position as Executive Director of the organization in October and Jazmine Outlaw, a longtime RYTF member and the mother of Taylor’s son, has taken over as the new Executive Director. According to follow-up posts by the RYTF on Twitter, Taylor is no longer affiliated with the organization.
In a statement posted to RYTF social media accounts, Outlaw said, “RYTF takes all allegations of harm seriously, especially those of sexual harm. As an organization primarily composed of young women of color, there is absolutely no place for any woman to feel unsafe or at danger while working for or volunteering with RYTF. RYTF is taking multiple courses of action to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again. We are working with multiple consultants to improve organizational culture and ensure that RYTF is a place for everyone, especially young women of color, to thrive.”
In addition to allegedly being removed from the RYTF, Community Board 14 District Manager Jon Gaska says that Taylor has not been on the board for close to two years.
The Rockaway Times reached out to Taylor to respond to the allegations. Taylor referred us to his attorney, Jeffrey Lichtman, Esq., who has represented big names such as John Gotti Jr. and El Chapo. In response to the RT, Lichtman said, “So far we’ve seen a massive online public relations push — but no corroborating evidence of any rape. No immediate visit to the police. No hospital visit or request for medical attention. Instead, my client dated Andrea Colon for a year after the date she now claims she was raped. In addition, these allegations of rape come conveniently after Colon sought my client’s removal as director of the RYTF and her own unsuccessful elevation to director of the organization, as well as the denial of unemployment benefits and loss of her medical insurance coverage.”
According to The Queens Daily Eagle, the NYPD’s Queens Special Victims Unit is investigating the claims made against Taylor. The RT reached out to the NYPD for confirmation, but in a statement, NYPD spokesperson Detective Sophia Mason simply said, “The NYPD takes sexual assault and rape cases extremely seriously, and urges anyone who has been a victim to file a police report so we can perform a comprehensive investigation, and offer support and services to survivors.”
This is not the first time Taylor has been in hot water. In 2014, Taylor was arrested and charged after then RYTF member Riána Sherwood accused him of attacking and choking her in the RYTF office. Taylor denied the charges but accepted a plea deal for disorderly conduct and was sentenced to eight weeks of anger management.
By Katie McFadden
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