Ellen DeGeneres’ mom regrets not believing her daughter’s sexual-abuse allegation

The World Premiere Of Disney-Pixar’s “Finding Dory”
Betty DeGeneres, left, and Ellen DeGeneres at the 2016 Hollywood premiere of “Finding Dory.”
(Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images)

Ellen DeGeneres’ mother regrets not believing her daughter’s allegations of sexual abuse by her late stepfather.

“I know now that one of the hardest things to do is speak up after being sexually abused,” Betty DeGeneres said to NBC News in an exclusive statement Friday, adding that she wished she’d “had the capacity to listen to her when she told me what happened.”

The talk-show host went into detail about the sexual abuse allegedly perpetrated by her stepfather in a recent interview with David Letterman for his show “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction.” The second season of the show dropped Friday on Netflix.

“I live with that regret,” Betty DeGeneres said, “and I wouldn’t want that for any other parent. If someone in your life has the courage to speak out, please believe them.”


According to Ellen DeGeneres, while her mother was fighting breast cancer, her late stepfather told her he needed to feel her breasts for lumps, as he’d done with her mother.

“He convinced me that he needs to feel my breasts and then he tries to do it again another time, and then another time,” the “Relatable” star told Letterman.

Then one night her stepfather — she said he was “a very bad man” — went a step further.


“He tries to break my door down, and I kicked the window out and ran ’cause I knew it was going to go more to something,” she said. “And I didn’t want to tell my mother because I was protecting her and I knew that would ruin her happiness.”

Ellen first spoke in 2005 about the alleged abuse, telling Allure that she slept in a hospital the night she ran away.

“I was too weak to stand up to [him]. I was 15 or 16,” DeGeneres told Letterman (via USA Today). “It’s a really horrible, horrible story, and the only reason I’m actually going to go into detail about it is because I want other girls to not ever let someone do that.”

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