A contestant on America's Got Talent who is suing the production company behind the show has accused host Tyra Banks of battery, assault, and causing emotional distress to the contestant and her daughter during a January taping of AGT, Variety reports. The plaintiff, identified only as Jane Doe in the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles on Tuesday, says that she and her family were humiliated — by Banks, the judges panel, and the audience — after she and her husband performed a song they wrote about motherhood and their daughter Mary.
The suit specifically accuses Banks of physically and emotionally abusing Jane Doe's daughter, who was present at the taping. "Banks shook Mary’s shoulder, pulled Mary’s hair back and physically manipulated Mary," the suit reads. "Banks also insinuated that Mary was accidentally conceived, made fun of the performance and ridiculed [the song] in front of Mary, all in front of active cameras that were filming Mary. After the performance, Banks asked Mary to describe, in front of active and filming cameras, her opinion about Jane and her husband after they were publicly ridiculed by AGT." It continues to assert that as a direct result of this experience, Mary was traumatized and has become "deeply depressed,"with the song and clips of the show triggering anxiety.
Additionally, Jane Doe claims that the production company got Mary to sign an AGT participant waiver, recognizing that she may be humiliated, without a parent present. She says that the series honored her request not to air any footage of Mary from the taping, but showed the couple's audition. They are seeking damages for the infliction of emotional distress and civil battery.
Refinery29 has reached out to Banks for comment.