Dancing with the Stars professional Cheryl Burke is breaking her silence about a long-secret childhood tragedy that happened to her when she was just 5 years old. Cheryl was molested by a family friend.
"It was lots of touching," Burke, 26, tells People about her attacker, a “retired mailman who would pick her up from school and do odd jobs for her family. "He would pull my pants down in his van or he would touch me in the living room while [her caregiver] Ima was in the kitchen cooking," she says.
Eventually, the man was arrested after trying to sexually assault Burke’s stepsister and her friend. That meant Cheryl, at just 6, had to testify in court.
"That was the scariest moment of my life,” she says. The man was sentenced to 20 years in jail. “I felt disgusted with myself for the longest time," Burke says, revealing that she still gets upset whenever she spots a mailman or a van that matches the model her molester had.
"I knew what he did was wrong, but I wanted this older man's affection," she says.
Unfortunately for Cheryl, the 20 year sentence is up, meaning her terrorizer is out on the street. "It creeps me out," she says. "My worst nightmare is to run into him. Not until he dies will I be able not to worry."
Cheryl’s new book Dancing Lessonsdetails this tragedy, as well as the fact that she had many abusive boyfriends, including one who beat her with a belt that left “huge welts.”