Molly Shannon was sexually harassed by the late Diff'rent Strokes star Gary Coleman, the former Saturday Night Live star said on Tuesday. Shannon, 57, spoke about the alleged incident during a stop on The Howard Stern Show and wrote about it in her new memoir, Hello, Molly!. Shannon described Coleman, who died in 2010, as "relentless" when they met.
The alleged incident happened early in Shannon's career when she signed with Coleman's agent. The agent offered Shannon a chance to meet the television star, and she leaped at the opportunity. She met Coleman in a penthouse hotel room with their agent. Once the agent left, the mood in the room changed quickly.
"I think he was like, 'Sit down [on the bed].' It was very sweet," Shannon told Howard Stern, reports PEOPLE. "And then he's, like, tickling me a little. This and that." She tried to be polite and told Coleman she was "a virgin." Coleman became more persistent.
"He was relentless," the Enlightened star recalled. "Then, he was like trying to kiss me and get on top, and I was like, 'No, Gary. Stop.' So, I push him off. Then, I would get off the bed. Then, he would bounce on the bed. Jump, jump, jump. And wrap himself around me. Then, I would fling him off. And then he got on top of me. I guess because of his size, I didn't feel physically threatened. But it was going on and on. Repeating. I would throw him off, he would get back on."
Eventually, Shannon "threw" Coleman off her. "I was really getting out of breath because it was athletic and aerobic," she continued. "He grabs me onto my leg, and I was like [trying to] kick him off... And then, I go lock myself in the bathroom, and then he sticks his hands under the door. And he's like, 'I can see you.'" Shannon "sprinted" out of the hotel room and told the agent to keep a better eye on Coleman. "I wish I could have stood up for myself more," she said.
Coleman starred as Arnold Jackson on Diff'rent Strokes. He died in 2010 at age 42. He suffered an intracranial hemorrhage at his home before his death. Coleman had several medical problems during his later years and battled a lifelong kidney condition that stunted his growth.
During her interview with Stern, Shannon talked about another subject in her book, finding out her father, James Shannon, was gay before his death and his struggles with alcohol. "I felt so much compassion," she told Stern. "Kind of the pieces of the story all coming together. It's tragic."
Shannon worked in Los Angeles early in her career, appearing in In Living Color and 1989's The Phantom of the Opera. In 1995, she was cast on Saturday Night Live and became a central player in the show's late 1990s era. She recently starred in HBO's The White Lotus and HBO Max's The Other Two.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you can contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or go to rainn.org.0comments