Melora Hardin says Todd Bridges stuck his tongue down her throat when they were filming a 1980 episode of the sitcom
It’s been almost 40 years since Melora Hardin appeared on Diff’rent Strokes — but she still remembers her time on set, especially in light of the #MeToo movement.
“You want to know what I really remember about it?” she told host Rocsi Diaz and co-host Julissa Bermudez. “I remember Todd Bridges tackling me in his dressing room, closing the door and sticking his tongue down my throat and turning the light off. Oh, yes I do.”
“That was not a pretty moment,” she added. “I hopped up and ran right out. So I remember that about that, sorry to say. Not the prettiest memory.”
Bridges — who was molested by a family friend multiple times at the age of 11 — apologized for the incident in a statement to PEOPLE on Wednesday.
“As a survivor of sexual assault, I value and take very serious any voices that come forward,” said Bridges, 53. “Although I do not recall the interaction that Melora describes, I am truly sorry that she has been haunted by a misplaced kiss between two teens over 40 years ago.”
Hardin, 50, said she was around 12 or 13 years old at the time, while Bridges was just a few years older. She doesn’t recall if she told anyone about the alleged incident at the time, but said she “might have said something to my mom about it.”
“I mean, look — it didn’t go further than that,” she said. “It was uncomfortable, but I don’t know. It’s funny — I feel like it’s totally inappropriate, but also he was 14 and I was 12 or 13, or whatever we were.”
“The light going off, I think, is the scariest part, really, for me — the door closing, the light going off,” she added. “He’s on top of me, kissing me, sticking his tongue down my throat. But it wasn’t like, a fight. It was just like, ‘Ew! No!’ and running out. It wasn’t like being restrained or threatened. So I don’t know. Inappropriate for sure, uncomfortable for sure, but I don’t know, as far the #MeToo movement goes. I don’t know how I feel about that, about a 13 and a 14-year-old or a 12 and a 15-year-old. I kind of think it’s totally inappropriate, but people are trying things out.”
Hardin said that her experience was “definitely not cool” but acknowledged that it’s a “really tricky one.”
“Because, and I’m not saying this is part of that, I’ve certainly had plenty of kisses that I’ve loved, that I really wanted to have, where it was much more of a give and a take and there was that beautiful dance,” she said. “None of us want to lose that — no one wants to lose that dance between men and women, that wonderful flirtation and that wonderful coyness that we can sort of play but also give them that door.”
“We can open that door and they can receive that door opening and they can be sensitive to that and it can be a really beautiful and sexy and wonderful thing. I don’t think any woman wants to lose that,” she continued. “But right now, it’s a pretty tricky time to even have this conversation. I don’t think that moment with Todd Bridges was one of those moments. I don’t think I was in any way opening that door. I don’t think I was flirting with him. I don’t even think he was flirting with me, I think he just made up his mind and decided it was something he wanted in the moment.”