|PHOTO: MICHAEL LOCCISANO/GETTY IMAGES.|
Lakshmi describes how, at the age of 7, she was molested by a relative of her then-stepfather who she shared a bed with sometimes, due to the small size of her mother's two-bedroom apartment in Queens, New York.
In her memoir, she writes that she woke up to his hand in her underpants, and he then placed her hand inside his. She was too young to know exactly what was going on, but she knew something was wrong. Looking back, she has no idea how often this happened, she told People, because she may have "slept through some incidents."
"Once you take a girl's innocence, you can never get it back," Lakshmi told People. "What I remember more is telling my mother what happened and her believing me, and then she and I telling someone else that it happened, and that person not believing me. And then the next week, I was sent to India."
"In retrospect, however," she writes in her memoir. "He should have been the one to go."
Padma Lakshmi is an Indian-born American author, actress, model, television host and executive producer. Her debut cookbook Easy Exotic won her the "Best First Book" award at the 1999 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. She has been the host of the US reality television program Top Chef since season two in 2006.
Lakshmi says in the interview that she doesn't think about the abuse often, but she explains that "it was a catalyst for a lot of things," specifically how she felt about her body and her ability to be open to the world. So why talk about it now? She says that this kind of sexual abuse happens "more than we think," and now that she has a daughter, that's something she considers more.
"I think of all those girls I pass on the street who are in elementary school," she says. "I think about my daughter's classmates or my daughter."
By sharing her story, Lakshmi is helping to remove the stigma of coming forward about sexual abuse, no matter how much time has passed. As she tells People: "If women like me don't talk about it, who will?"
MORGANTOWN, Kentucky — A Butler County juvenile who is accused of molesting two girls younger than 12 is being prosecuted as an adult.
Brady Johnson, 17, of Morgantown, was arraigned Tuesday in Butler Circuit Court on four counts of first-degree sexual abuse, four counts of first-degree sodomy and one count of first-degree rape.
The indictment alleges that he committed the offenses against the two girls between Dec. 1, 2013, and June 28.
The two girls, ages 7 and 11, told their mother that Johnson abused them, which led to the Kentucky State Police being contacted June 28, according to Butler Circuit Court records.
The mother reported that the girls had been scared of Johnson and that it was traumatic for them to disclose the alleged abuse, which the children said occurred at multiple addresses in Butler County.
On July 6, the girls were interviewed at the Barren River Child Advocacy Center in Bowling Green.
During the interviews, the girls said Johnson touched their ....TMI. The 7-year-old told authorities that Johnson did not threaten her but did tell her to never tell anyone what was occurring between them, according to an incident report drafted by KSP Trooper Forrest Winchester.
The 11-year-old was "extremely nonverbal" during her interview at the child advocacy center and "asked to write down her responses to any difficult question," according to the incident report.
Law enforcement interviewed Johnson on July 19 at Butler County Courthouse with his father present. Johnson initially denied any wrongdoing before acknowledging that he inappropriately touched the 11-year-old juvenile with his finger.
Johnson said the incident occurred once and that he was under the influence of drugs at the time, according to the incident report.
The case was originally prosecuted in juvenile court in Butler County, but Butler County Attorney Richard Deye moved to have the case transferred to Butler Circuit Court because of the violent nature of the charged offenses and Johnson's prior juvenile record.
When a case involving a juvenile accused of felony offenses is transferred to circuit court, the juvenile is prosecuted as a "youthful offender" and subject to the same potential penalties as an adult.
For a case to be transferred, a juvenile court judge has to find probable cause based on at least two factors that include the seriousness of the alleged offense, the child's prior record, whether the offense was against persons or property, the best interest of the child and community, the prospects for adequate protection of the public, the child's maturity as determined by his environment, the likelihood of the child being rehabilitated through the juvenile justice system and evidence of a child's participation in a gang.