Deaf actress Marlee Matlin is responding to stories in which multiple unnamed Celebrity Apprentice production staffers allege Donald Trump referred to her as "retarded."
All three of the sources asked The Daily Beast,which originally reported the story, not to use their names because they feared legal retaliation for violating their non-disclosure agreements.
The Oscar winner, known for her roles in the film Children of a Lesser God and TV's The West Wing, issued a statement via Twitter Friday acknowledging she was aware of the stories, though it's not clear whether she knew about them during Season 11 of The Apprentice, in which she finished second.
She called the term he is said to have used "abhorrent," adding that, "the fact that we are talking about this during a very important moment in American history has upset me deeply."
Matlin went on to state, "I am deaf. There are millions of deaf and hard-of-hearing people like me in the United States and around the world who face discrimination and misunderstanding like this on a daily basis. It is unacceptable."
She refused to get down in the mud, saying "it's not about insults or taking each other down. As a person who is deaf, as a woman, as a mom, as a wife, as an actor, I have a voice. And I'm using that voice to make myself heard ... and vote."
“Taken along with his previous mocking of a New York Times reporter with a disability, Donald Trump has shown a pattern of disparaging people with disabilities that is unacceptable and offensive,” said Jay Ruderman, the president of the Ruderman Family Foundation, which advocates for disability inclusion. He added that his organization "renews our offer to provide Donald Trump sensitivity training in interacting with people with disabilities who make up 20% of the American population."
Earlier this week, Mark Burnett, the executive producer of The Apprentice and president of MGM, reiterated that he would not release unaired Apprenticefootage and said that he is not "pro-Trump." He added, "Further, my wife (actress Roma Downey) and I reject the hatred, division and misogyny that has been a very unfortunate part of his campaign.”
Mark Putnam, an entertainment lawyer for the studio, which bought Burnett's production company, told USA TODAY, "MGM has agreements with artists across a wide spectrum of creative properties, including The Apprentice. These agreements typically contain provisions related to confidentiality and artist’s rights. MGM has every intention of complying with its agreements with artists and honoring their rights, including with respect to The Apprentice."