The X Factor star Katie Waissel has claimed that she was sexually assaulted by a member of the reality show’s team.
The singer, who appeared in the 2010 series of the ITV singing competition, alleges that the incident took place at a luxury hotel in the US, some years after she reached the semi-final.
“I can still smell him. I was paralysed with shock. All I could think was, ‘How am I going to leave this room?’” she told The Sun.
“I was a victim but I wouldn’t allow myself to recognise just how terrible it had been. I’ve never spoken before as I thought I’d be blacklisted and never work again.
“I was vulnerable but times have changed and I now feel bold enough to speak out.”
Waissel, now 35, said she chose not to make a formal complaint at the time, because she was pregnant and did not want to deal with the stress.
However, she said she now regrets taking part in the show.
“I was so focused on being successful and was vulnerable to a man like this who exploited that,” she said.
“If I could go back in time, I would never have taken part.”
The Sun reports that the man, who was not identified for legal reason and who no longer works for Syco Entertainment, denies Waissel’s allegations.
A spokesman for Syco Entertainment told The Independent: “We were made aware via the media of Katie’s claims in Autumn 2017 and we immediately contacted her and began an investigation. We were naturally shocked at the allegations and wanted to do anything we could to help – so we asked her to lodge a complaint with us and detail the allegations for that purpose.
“In the interim we suspended the accused. Despite a number of requests to Katie asking her to detail the claims to us, she chose not to make a complaint over his behaviour. As a result, and without other evidence to the contrary, we were obliged to accept his denial of the claims.
“We, of course, remain ready and keen to investigate her claims if she so chooses to detail them to us and even though the alleged perpetrator no longer works for either Syco or Sony Music.”
After the story was published, Waissel’s fellow X Factor contestant and series seven runner-up Rebecca Ferguson tweeted her support.
“I stand with you and every woman who has the courage to speak out and tell their truth,” she wrote.