James Marsden, Taran Killam and Stars Who Signed Brian Peck Letters of Support “Devastated” Drake Bell, Says Dan Schneider

Various actors and entertainment industry insiders wrote letters in support of Brian Peck, a voice coach and Nickelodeon actor who was convicted of child sexual abuse, as revealed in Investigation Discovery’s Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV.

As explained in the docuseries that aired Sunday and Monday nights, Peck was arrested in August 2003 on 11 charges of child sexual abuse. He was sentenced to 16 months in prison in October 2004 and was registered as a sex offender. At the time, the identity of the child actor who was abused by Peck was unknown publicly, and the minor was referred to as John Doe in court documents. The majority of the records were sealed, with details hidden from the public. After nearly 20 years, the documents were unsealed for the documentary.

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In the third episode of the series, Drake Bell came forward, revealing he was the child actor in question who was abused by Peck. “On the day of sentencing for Brian, I get to the courthouse […]. His entire side of the courtroom was full. There were definitely some recognizable faces on his side of the room,” Bell said on Quiet on Set.

In total, 41 people wrote letters of support for Peck, which are used to influence the judge during sentencing. Many of the letters asked for the judge to put Peck on probation rather than having him serve time in prison. Among the recognizable names that voiced their support for Peck were Ron Melendez, Alan Thicke, James Marsden, Rider Strong, Will Friedle and Bell’s former The Amanda Show co-star Taran Killam.

In a video exclusively obtained by The Hollywood Reporter and published Tuesday, former Nickelodeon creator Dan Schneider addressed the claims in Quiet on Set about toxic workplaces for child actors and crews on Nickelodeon series he created and ran. He also shared conversations he says he had with Bell about Peck.

Schneider recounted Bell attending the sentencing hearing and Peck’s side of the courtroom being filled with supporters. “A lot of them [were] pretty famous. Of course Drake was devastated that that happened. And even more disappointing, 41 of those people wrote letters for Peck’s character, letters praising him for who he was and asking for leniency,” Schneider says in a video interview with iCarly star BooG!e that was filmed after Schneider watched the docuseries. “That was probably the darkest part of my career. And here’s the kicker that I really don’t get. After he [Peck] got out of prison and was a registered sex offender, he was hired on a Disney Channel show. I don’t understand that.” (THR reached out to reps for Nickelodeon, the Disney Channel and Bell for comment.)

In his letter, Marsden noted that he’d known Peck for 14 years. “I assure you, what Brian has been through in the last year is the suffering of a hundred men,” he wrote.

Killam wrote on his letter, “I’ve seen the effects this situation has had on Brian and I know for a fact that he regrets any mistakes made.”

In February, Strong and Friedle commented on the situation on their Boy Meets World podcast, Pod Meets World. “In telling me what happened and instantly spinning it to where it wasn’t his fault, it was clearly the fault of his victim, my initial instinct because of the years I’d been [working] with him was, ‘Well yeah, of course, it can’t be you,'” said Friedle.

“[Peck] turned us against the victim to now we’re on his team. That’s the thing where, to me, I look back at that as my shame,” Friedle continued. “When there’s an actual victim involved and I’m now on the abuser’s side, that’s the thing I can’t get over.”

“To be clear, though, he didn’t say nothing had happened,” Strong added. “So, by the time we heard about this 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 a victim of jailbait. There was this hot guy. I just did this thing, and he’s underage.’ And we bought that storyline as opposed to saying, ‘Woah, grown man who is over 40 years old, what the hell are you doing?'”

In an Instagram post made by former Zoey 101 star Alexa Nikolas, who also appears in Quiet on Set, she addressed the Boy Meets World cast’s letters. “YOU cared more about Hollywood, Pizzagate, and Boy Meets World than a child that was molested by someone YOU defended and never apologized to!” she wrote.

Bell replied to a comment on the post, in which a fan defended the Boy Meets World cast. “Will was 27 years old and Brian told him what he did,” wrote the Drake & Josh alum in a post that has since been deleted. “Many people turned away and said no, I won’t write a letter but [Friedle and Strong] did.”

He continued, “Will was not manipulated. Brian admitted it to him and he wrote the letter anyway. 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 the were told there [sic] letters are gonna 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 their story.”

Bell also replied to another comment that alleged Strong was a minor at the time, writing, “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 Hollywood Reporter has reached out to reps for Killam, Marsden, Strong and Friedle for comment.

In the docuseries, Bell touched on his 2021 felony charge of attempted child endangerment and a misdemeanor charge of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles, related to his alleged inappropriate text conversations with a minor. Bell maintained that while he pleaded guilty to his inappropriate text relationship with the fan, he did not have a physical relationship with her.

The former Nickelodeon actor added, “I took responsibility for that, you know, I did what was asked of me, but the media grabbed a hold of so much misinformation, and it absolutely destroyed me. And I started to spin our of control. If I had continued down that path, that could very likely be the end of my story.”

Coinciding with the premiere of Quiet on Set, Bell released a new song, “I Kind of Relate,” in which he delved into his past behavior and how it affected his career (“I kind of relate/I found beauty in my pain/I’m running away/From the abuse and all the shame/‘Cause no one comes/To my house anymore/No one knocks on my door”). Bell also re-created the Drake & Josh set for its music video.

“This song is very autobiographical and touches on many moments of my life,” said Bell in an interview with Mexican publication Publimetro (translated from Spanish to English by THR). “Difficult situations, trauma, the good, the bad. I think my fans, who have supported me for a long time, will really understand where I’m coming from.”

When asked if it was meant to be a preview for the documentary, he shared, “It’s not as much of a preview but it definitely touches on certain aspects and things that have happened in my life that the documentary also shows. It’s like a diary entry or a chapter of my life.”

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