Former X Factor star opens up about sexual assault during filming

Lucy Spraggan sings into a microphone at a gig.

Content Warning: This article features mentions of sexual violence. Reader discretion is advised.

Former X Factor contestant Lucy Spraggan has revealed that she left the reality TV show after being raped by a hotel porter in 2012.

The 31-year-old opened up about an incident that occurred during the production of the ITV show in 2012 in an interview with The Guardian about her upcoming memoir, Process.

Originally, she told the public that she had withdrawn from The X Factor due to an illness, but later revealed that her departure was due to an attack by a porter in a hotel.

She told The Guardian that, during the final episodes of the show, she had come back to her hotel after a night out in central London for fellow contestant Rylan Clark’s 25th birthday at the Mayfair night club Mahiki.

Spraggan passed out from drinking and a hotel porter offered to take her up to her room.

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“I woke up the next day with this sense of sheer dread,” she said. “I don’t think I’ve ever felt that level of confusion since.

“I knew that I’d been raped, but I could not process that. So I put my clothes on and went into autopilot.”

Clark was the first person Spraggan told about what had happened. The X Factor production team called the police, who took her to a specialist unit.

Because Clark checked in on Spraggan and locked her hotel room door behind him during the night, the perpetrator was forced to use a traceable keycard to enter the room when he returned to attack her. It was this keycard that made a swift arrest possible.

Clark has consistently been a fierce advocate for Spraggan, and the pair remain friends to this day.

The production team for the show had been cooperative in the investigation, but Spraggan said she believed the team had been “unprepared” to deal with the incident.

The news eventually leaked to the press, but her right to anonymity meant that the subsequent trial – which was full of journalists – was only reported referring to an unnamed “television star”. The perpetrator pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Lucy Spraggan performs at the Summer Rites festival on September 2, 2012 in London, England. (Daniel Christian/Getty Images)

Spraggan made the decision to leave the show, partly due to the side effects of post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) – a drug that prevents HIV within 72 hours of exposure – and the mental anguish she was feeling following the incident.

She had received financial and medical support following the immediate aftermath of the incident, but later said she wasn’t given anymore support after the trial.

“No one ever contacted me to ask if I was OK,” Spraggan writes in her memoir. No one called or emailed when the trial was over and he was convicted. No one offered me rehabilitation or ongoing mental health treatment. I was on my own.”

When it came to making the announcement of her departure from the show, Spraggan said that, at first, she wanted to tell the public the truth but thought it might damage her career.

“I realised straight away that it wasn’t going to be so simple,” she told The Guardian. “I remember various people saying, ‘You have your whole career ahead of you and you can’t retract this’.

“I was terrified of being known as the girl who was attacked while on The X Factor.”

Lucy Spraggan performs at O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire on May 18, 2023 in London, England. (Joseph Okpako/WireImage)

In a statement, The X Factor creator Simon Cowell said the events were “horrific and heart-breaking”.

“When I was given the opportunity to speak to Lucy, I was able to personally tell her how sorry I was about everything she has been through,” Cowell said.

“Lucy is one of the most authentic, talented and brave people I have ever met.”

A spokesperson for Fremantle, which owns series producer Thames, said in a statement: “To our knowledge, the assault was an event without precedent in the UK television industry.

“While we believed throughout that we were doing our best to support Lucy in the aftermath of the ordeal, as Lucy thinks we could have done more, we must therefore recognise this. For everything Lucy has suffered, we are extremely sorry.

“Since then, we have done our very best to learn lessons from these events and improve our aftercare processes.

“While we have worked hard to try and protect Lucy’s lifetime right to anonymity, we applaud her strength and bravery now that she has chosen to waive that right.”

Spraggan signed with Columbia Records in 2013. She released her first major studio album, Join the Club, in October of the same year, which peaked at number 7 on the UK Albums Chart. It was announced that Spraggan had signed with Cowell’s record label, Syco Music, in 2022.

Lucy Spraggan’s memoir, Process, is set to be released in July 2023, and her seventh album, Balance, in October 2023.

Rape Crisis England and Wales works towards the elimination of sexual violence. If you’ve been affected by the issues raised in this story, you can access more information on their website or by calling the National Rape Crisis Helpline on 0808 802 9999. Rape Crisis Scotland’s helpline number is 08088 01 03 02.

Readers in the US are encouraged to contact RAINN, or the National Sexual Assault Hotline on 800-656-4673.