Pauley Perrette was holding back tears when she faced her alleged attacker during a preliminary hearing last week, and she explained her courtroom breakdown to ET on her first red carpet since the incident.
"It was terrifying," the NCIS star recalled at the TrevorLIVE LA event at the Hollywood Palladium on Sunday. "I really wasn't prepared for how scared I would be. In that moment when I saw him, I might as well have been alone on that sidewalk with him again, and I think that's how it works with trauma."
Her appearance in court stems from an incident that occurred on Nov. 13, during which the 46-year-old actress says she was punched repeatedly and had her life threatened by a "psychotic homeless man." After she escaped, Perrette drew a sketch of the man she believed assaulted her and the Los Angeles Police Department later booked a 45-year-old white male suspect named David Merck on felony battery charges.
As a major advocate for the homeless, Perrette admitted to having mixed feelings about seeing Merck in court.
"I'm not the one that gets homeless people arrested. I'm the one that feeds them and gives them clothes and advocates on their behalf," Perrette said. "But we have a huge problem here, and I do think that since I am alive, that I have a part in this. I don't want it to happen to anyone, but I do think it was supposed to happen to me, so we can work for change."
If convicted, Merck could face up to four years in prison. After his lawyer's motions to reduce the charges were denied, Merck's bail was set at $60,000.