A contestant on “America’s Got Talent” filed a lawsuit Tuesday claiming that host Tyra Banks humiliated her daughter at a recent taping of the show.
The contestant, identified in the suit only as Jane Doe, performed a song with her husband at the taping on March 19. The song is about her bond with her daughter, who is identified as Mary and who was present at the taping. She says that she and her husband were “humiliated” by the judges and the audience, who criticized the song.
According to the suit, Banks added to the humiliation by making fun of the song in front of Mary. The contestant alleges that Banks pulled her daughter’s hair back, physically manipulated her, and insinuated that the girl was accidentally conceived.
Afterward, “Mary was traumatized and became deeply depressed,” the suit states. “Mary would become extremely nervous and anxious whenever, among other triggering events, she hears any mentions of [the] song and [the] song itself, whenever she ruminates about the events during or related to the performance, and whenever she thinks about the prospective televised airing or use online of Jane and her husband, their performance, as well as the airing and use online of any footages of Mary.”
Reality show contestants typically sign waivers acknowledging that they may be subjected to ridicule and humiliation. However, the suit alleges that Marathon Productions got Mary to sign a contract without her parents’ knowledge or consent.
After the contestant complained, the company communicated that it would not feature Mary in the broadcast. However, the couple asked that the entire performance not be aired. That request was refused.
The suit, filed in L.A. Superior Court, accuses Banks of battery and assault and seeks damages for infliction of emotional distress.
FremantleMedia, the parent of Marathon Productions, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.