Sheryl Lee Ralph Claims She Was Sexually Assaulted By Very 'Famous TV Judge'

Sheryl Lee Ralph revealed that she was assaulted by a "famous TV judge" at a work event years ago and that network executives warned her not to report the incident for fear of "bad press. "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, 66, said on Monday's Way Up With Angela Yee podcast. "And everybody at the network saw it." Although the Abbott Elementary star didn't disclose when the incident took place or the judge's name, she confirmed it was not Greg Mathis, referring to him as "a great man. "I'm at a very public place. I was suited. I was handling my business for the television show I was on at that time," she said without naming the show, but did add, "we were on the same network." Ralph said she reported the alleged sexual assault to former New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial, who served from 1994 to 2002. Ralph said Morial defended her immediately, saying, "You want me to send the police there right now? 'Cause we will fix his you-know-what!"

She went on to say that she was ready to hold the alleged assaulter accountable for the acts he committed until "somebody on the network tapped me on the shoulder saying, 'Please don't.' "They did not want any bad press around their show and did not care what just happened to me," Ralph added. "They saw what happened!" she said." '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.'" According to her, one witness even said, "It wasn't so bad after all, was it? "That's the kind of stuff that happens," Ralph continued. "That's what makes it hard for women to speak up about these things." Her "horrible" experience led her to question her wardrobe after being sexually assaulted by a man she "didn't know" in another incident. "My skirt is at my knees. I have on a sweater blouse," the Dreamgirls star said. "It's horrible. It's like I can think about these things and I'll tell you, it was like the third time something like this had happened to me, and I thought to myself, 'What did I do to deserve that?' What made this man think that he could just come over and put his hands on my body, in front of — he didn't know me."

After confronting her assaulter, Ralph said he "did not remember any of this. "Years later, I was in a situation where that man walked through the door, and he sat down at the table across from me," she said. "I had to confront him about it. I had to let him know what he did that night. "Do you want to know what was the shocking part?" Ralph said while on the podcast. "Everybody around the table was appalled that I would stand up for myself. They told me that I should be ashamed of myself, and why would I even bring that up and at the dinner table." She said she decided to share her distressing experiences on the show in the hope that other actors would be encouraged to speak out about similar situations. "Speak up, tell your truth, do not carry the burden of the pain," she said, "especially if you feel like it's something you can't work through."