Drake Bell calls out fellow actors for supporting his abuser after Quiet on Set revelations

Former Nickelodeon star Drake Bell has called out Boy Meets World actors Rider Strong and Will Friedle for not apologising for their support of convicted sexual abuser Brian Peck.

Earlier this month, Bell spoke out for the first time about the alleged sexual abuse he says he suffered at the age of 15.

In the Investigation Discovery series Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV, which is available to stream on Discovery+, Bell alleged that he was a victim of abuse at the hands of Peck, who worked as a dialogue coach on Nickelodeon’s All That and The Amanda Show.

Bell starred in the latter show from 1999 to 2002 before going on to take the lead role in his own Nickelodeon series in 2004, Drake & Josh. The show’s creator, and Nickelodeon executive producer, Dan Schenider has since spoken out on the claims made in the documentary.

The documentary uncovered court documents from Peck’s trial which showed that several child actors had written letters of support for Peck, including Strong and Friedle.

Ahead of the release of the series, Strong and Friedle said on their Pod Meets World podcast that they had felt “shame” for being “misled” by the dialogue coach.

The said Peck had convinced them that he was the victim in the case. Friedle said that the older man had framed it as: “Yes, he committed this act, but he committed this act after being manipulated himself, after being taken advantage of. You name it, by the end, he was the saint.”

Drake Bell pictured in Hollywood in 2020 (Getty)
Drake Bell pictured in Hollywood in 2020 (Getty)

Friedle continued: “My initial instinct was: Well, he’s my friend, it can’t be, it has to be the other person’s fault. The story makes complete sense — the way that he was saying it. I look back on it now, and it makes me want to cry that I was ever that naive.”

Strong added that he’d been given a similar version of events, saying: “He didn’t say that nothing had happened. By the time we heard about the case and knew anything about it, it was always in the context of: ‘I did this thing, I am guilty, I am going to take whatever punishment the government determines, but I’m the victim of jailbait.’”

Friedle explained: “He then asked us to support him and go to court with him, which a lot of us did. We’re then sitting in that courtroom, on the wrong side of everything, of course having no idea. It was filled with child actors, to the point that the victim’s mother turned around and said: ‘Look at all the famous people you brought with you, and it doesn’t change what you did to my kid.’

“There were a lot of us there who were very recognizable. [Peck] had Rider and I write letters of support to the judge, and these were things that we did. And, again, we did them because we were lied to. We weren’t told the whole story. But that doesn’t change the fact that we did it.

“I was 24, 25 when it happened. The idea that I didn’t know, couldn’t spot it, that was my own failure, in my mind. I don’t even know how to put half of what I’m feeling into words… In my head, there’s no excuses — how did you not see this?!”

Friedle, who was 27 when Peck was arrested, continued: “There’s an actual victim here, and he turned us against the victim to where now we are on his team. And that’s the thing where, to me, I look back at that as my ever-loving shame... When there’s an actual victim involved and now I’m on the abuser’s side? That’s the thing I can’t get over, and haven’t been able to get over.”

On Instagram this week, another former Nickelodeon star Alexis Nikolas hit out at Strong and Friedle for not apologising directly to Bell.

“YOU cared more about Hollywood, Pizzagate, and Boy Meets World than a child that was molested by someone YOU defended and never apologised to!” wrote Nikolas.

After some fans defended the pair in the comments of Nikolas’s post, arguing they were minors at the time, Peck weighed in to further criticise Strong and Friedle.

“Will was 27 years old and Brian told him what he did. Many people turned away and said no I won’t write a letter but they did. Will was not manipulated. Brian admitted it to him and he wrote the letter anyway,” wrote Bell.

He continued: “Then he worked with me on many many episodes of spider man years later and never said a word to me about it. This is because they were told their letters are going to be made public. Everyone thought the letters would be sealed forever and no one would ever see them. This is their publicist telling them how to get ahead of the story.”

In another comment, Bell added: “No he wasn’t. RIDER WAS 24 years old when he wrote the letter and was told by Brian what he did. He wrote the letter anyway.”

The Independent has approached Strong and Friedle for comment.

In August 2003, Peck was arrested on more than a dozen charges related to sexual abuse allegations involving an unnamed minor.

In May 2004, Peck pleaded no contest to performing a lewd act with a 14 or 15-year-old and to oral copulation with a minor under 16. Peck was sentenced to 16 months in prison and ordered to register as a sex offender in October 2004.

Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV, a four-part docuseries investigating the toxic work conditions at children’s shows in the 1990s and early 2000s, aired on 17 and 18 March.