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Sheryl Lee Ralph has alleged she was sexually assaulted by a “famous TV judge” at a business event years ago, claiming network executives witnessed the attack but asked her to stay silent to avoid “bad press.”
“I’m at a very public place. I was suited. I had my suit on. I was handling my business for the television show I was on at that time. He and I were on the same network,” she said, recalling the alleged incident.
“This man walked in, grabbed me by the back of my neck, turned me around and rammed his nasty ass tongue down my throat,” Ralph said. “And everybody at the network saw it.”
The Emmy-winning “Abbott Elementary” actor and “Dreamgirls” star did not name the man who allegedly assaulted her, and she did not reveal which network or show she was working with at the time. But she made sure to note that it was not Judge Greg Mathis. “I love him. He’s a great man,” she said of the “Judge Mathis” star. “Not him at all. He’s a great man. This was another one.”
Ralph made the allegations this week on the podcast, “Way Up With Angela Yee.” Getting visibly upset as she retold her story, she said she decided to open up about it in the hopes of encouraging other women and actors to stand up for themselves.
“Speak up, tell your truth, do not carry the burden of the pain … especially if you feel like it’s something you can’t work through,” she said.
Ralph said she was ready to report the incident, even calling the former mayor of New Orleans, Marc Morial, who was in office from 1994 to 2002. (During that time frame, Ralph starred on the UPN sitcom “Moesha.”) She said the mayor immediately came to her defense, asking, “You want me to send the police there right now? ‘Cause we will fix this, you know what!” But the network, she claims, asked her to stay silent.
“Somebody on the network tapped me on the shoulder saying, ‘Please don’t,’” Ralph shared. “They did not want any bad press around their show, and did not care what had just happened to me.”
“They saw what happened,” she continued. Recalling what she said she was told by network executives and bystanders, she added, “It’s not that bad is it? Please don’t say anything. We don’t need the bad press. It’s a brand new show. Yours is a new show … It wasn’t so bad after all, was it?”
“That’s the kind of stuff that happens,” Ralph said. “That’s what makes it hard for women to speak up about these things.”
Variety reached out to a representative for Ralph for further comment.