In an exclusive interview with DailyMailTV, Ben Gravolet said DeGeneres worked for his mother’s recruitment agency, Snelling Personnel, in the late 1970s and as a child was subject to cruel insults from the then aspiring comedian
He said DeGeneres – aged about 20 at the time – called him ‘fat’ and ‘stupid’ and ‘took pleasure’ in his distress, the now 52-year-old claims.
“I would dread going to [my mom’s] office to see her after school or on a day if I was sick and Ellen was there, “ Gravolet said. “She would criticize my weight. I would try to do homework in the office, she’d call me stupid, she’d call me fat.
Gravolet also said DeGeneres taunted him for what he would wear.
“She would criticize my clothes,” he said. “I was just a boy and this was a grown woman who took pleasure in seeing me become visibly upset. I don’t think there’s any excuse for it. I was a defenseless kid. What could I have told her back?
DeGeneres’ alleged cruelty had lasting impact on the then impressionable boy.
‘It has an effect if somebody in a superior position to you, who’s much older, goes ”You’re fat. You might want to lose some of that weight chunky boy.’ I was always self conscious about my weight and it made things worse.”
According to the DailyMail, the Louisiana-based father-of-three, who now works as vice president of a New Orleans marketing agency, said the multi-millionaire comedian “was just the meanest, nastiest, most horrible person.”
”One incident stands out in my mind,” he recalled during the interview. “I was sitting beside her desk. I was drawing, and she criticized the drawings. She said ‘I guess that would look nice if you could draw.”
“As I watched her meteoric rise to fame, people would say how great she was and all I could think was she must be an incredible actor because she was one of the most vile people I’ve ever met in my life,” he said. “Who takes pleasure in giving a child pain?”
Backing up her son’s story, Gravolet’s mother, Tana Robinson, told DailyMailTV DeGeneres was “extremely rude” but that she only found out about the alleged bullying of her son a few weeks ago.
“I think I probably fired her,” she continued. “Had I known that was going on, I’d have punched her and then fired her,” said the 72-year-old. “A horrible person does that to an 11-year-old boy.”
“I can’t even put myself in the shoes of someone at that age that dislikes children so much or whose ego is so low that she has to smash a child to feel good about herself,” she concluded. “A bully is a good word for it. She never tried to bully me because she knew she couldn’t. So she bullied him with me not knowing about it.”
The claims made by Gravolet and his mother join a long list of grievances against DeGeneres.
The 62-year-old has faced allegations of racism, bullying and sexual harassment as staff members of The Elle DeGeneres Show have come forward to share their stories of mistreatment.
The New Orleans native addressed these allegations in a letter to her crew stating that she takes responsibility for the toxic work environment and distress of her employees and is now working to “correct the issues” going forward.
While she remains contrite in public, according to a source, she feels “betrayed” by her staff and production company and “wants out of the show.”
OK! reported last week that DeGeneres has been labeled as one of the “meanest people”, and several industry workers have talked about their interactions with her.
“She is p***ed that people have come forward to share these negative stories about her and feels betrayed,” the source said.
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