Entertainment TV 'Abbott Elementary' 's Sheryl Lee Ralph Claims She Was Sexually Assaulted by a 'Famous TV Judge' The alleged incident happened years ago, when the Emmy-winning Abbott Elementary actress was promoting a show at a network event in New Orleans By Anna Lazarus Caplan Anna Lazarus Caplan Instagram Twitter Digital News Writer, PEOPLE People Editorial Guidelines Published on March 23, 2023 03:18 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Sheryl Lee Ralph has claimed she was once sexually assaulted by well-known TV figure. The Abbott Elementary star described the alleged assault by a "famous TV judge" occurred years ago while she was promoting a show at a network event. She recalled Monday on the Way Up with Angela Yee podcast: "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." Ralph continued, "This man walked in, grabbed me by the back of my neck, turned me around and rammed his nasty-ass tongue down my throat. And everybody at the network saw it." Abbott Elementary's Sheryl Lee Ralph Says She Was Fired From a TV Pilot for Not Being 'Black Enough' Kevin Winter/Getty While she did not name the man, the actress, who was starring on Moesha at the time, did clarify that it was not Judge Greg Mathis. "I love him. He's a great man," she said about Mathis. "Not him at all. He's a great man. This was another one." Ralph also said that she tried to report the incident, and called then-mayor of New Orleans Marc Morial, who she says asked her: "You want me to send the police there right now? 'Cause we will fix this, you know what!" But Ralph said network executives didn't want to take the chance the incident might become public. "Somebody on the network tapped me on the shoulder saying, 'Please don't,'" she said. "They did not want any bad press around their show, and did not care what had just happened to me." A rep for Ralph did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for additional comments. Chris Haston/NBC via Getty Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories. Ralph said she'd experienced other "Me Too" moments over the course of her career, including another alleged sexual assault and a time when a promoter in appropriately put his hand on her leg. Ralph said these alleged incidents caused her to question reality and her perception of it. "My skirt is at my knees. I have on a sweater blouse," she recalled. "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 [everyone]' — he didn't know me." Ralph is speaking out now in hopes that it will empower others to do so too. "Speak up, tell your truth, do not carry the burden of the pain," she encouraged, adding, "especially if you feel like it's something you can't work through." If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, please contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or go to rainn.org.