Drake Bell Accused “Boy Meets World” Actors Will Friedle And Rider Strong Of Trying To Save Face After They Expressed Guilt For Supporting His Alleged Abuser Brian Peck

“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,” wrote Drake, who recently came forward as Brian Peck’s alleged victim.

This article mentions allegations of child sex abuse and grooming.

A month ago, Boy Meets World actors Will Friedle and Rider Strong opened up about feeling shame and guilt over their support of Nickelodeon alum Brian Peck amid his 2004 legal trial.

Closeup of Will Friedle and Rider Strong on the red carpet of a media event

Peck, who worked as an actor and dialogue coach, was sentenced to 16 months in prison after pleading no contest to two counts of child sex abuse against a Nickelodeon child actor. At the time of the trial, the child was referred to as “John Doe” in court documents to protect his identity.

Closeup of Brian Peck holding a toy figurine

According to the legal papers, Peck, who was 43 at the time, was “coaching the victim” at his home when the offenses took place. He was purportedly arrested after the child’s parents reported him to the police.

Peck was originally charged with 11 counts against the child actor. These included: a lewd act upon a child; sodomy of a person under 16; attempted sodomy of a person under 16; sexual penetration by a foreign object; four counts of oral copulation of a person under 16; oral copulation by anesthesia or controlled substance; sending harmful matter; and using a minor for sex acts. 

Peck ended up pleading no contest to just 2 of the 11 counts: lewd act upon a child, and oral copulation. He was found guilty of both in court, and the remaining counts were subsequently dismissed.

Peck’s legal trial has sparked renewed discourse lately due to the release of Investigation Discovery’s docuseries, Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV, which premiered this weekend.

Closeup of Brian Peck signing autographs

The docuseries sees Drake Bell coming forward as Peck’s alleged victim. The actor, who shot to fame after starring as one of the titular characters in Nickelodeon sitcom Drake & Josh, purportedly says in the film: “I was sleeping on the couch where I usually sleep, and I woke up to him... He was sexually assaulting me. And I froze and was in complete shock and had no idea what to do or how to react.”

Closeup of Drake Bell on the red carpet

“You know anytime I had an audition or anytime I needed to work on dialogue or anything, I somehow ended up back at Brian's house. And it just got worse, and worse, and worse, and worse, and I was just trapped. I had no way out. The abuse was extensive, and it got pretty brutal,” Bell also claimed.

Elsewhere, the docuseries unveils court documents from Peck’s trial, including letters of support that he’d received from various child actors — including Boy Meets World stars Friedle and Strong.

Closeup of Rider Strong and Will Friedle

Ahead of the release of the docuseries, Friedle and Strong discussed their support of Peck amid his trial during an episode of their podcast, claiming that they were “misled” by him as they detailed feeling “shame.”

Closeup of an adult Rider Strong on the red carpet

Both Friedle and Strong — who shared a close friendship with Peck in spite of their age gap — claimed that they were only made aware of the crimes that he’d pleaded no contest to, and not the several others he was charged with.

They also claimed that Peck had managed to convince them that he was the victim in the case by telling them that he’d been “worn down” by his accuser. “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,” Friedle recalled.

“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,” Friedle said, before adding: “I look back on it now, and it makes me want to cry that I was ever that naive.”

Will Friedle speaking at a Comic-Con panel, dressed in a button-up shirt, microphone in front

Strong similarly recalled: “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.’”

Closeup of Rider Strong

Friedle also recounted: “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,” he went on. “[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.”

Friedle went on to add: “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?!” He was 27 when Peck was arrested.

“There’s an actual victim here, and he turned us against the victim to where now we are on his team,” he continued. “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.”

Fast-forward to now, and Drake Bell has called out Friedle and Strong over their podcast comments, accusing them of trying to save face and “get ahead of the story.”

Closeup of Drake Bell

It's important to note that Drake was charged with attempted endangering of children and disseminating matter harmful to juveniles back in 2021. He initially pled not guilty, although later pled guilty to both charges.

His alleged victim claimed that Drake had groomed her from the age of 12 before sexually assaulting her when she was 15 and he was 31. His attorney disputed part of the alleged victim's statement, including her claim that Drake had sexually abused her.

Drake was not charged with sexual abuse. He was sentenced to two years of probation and 200 hours of community service in July 2021.

Taking to Instagram this week, Bell replied to a comment under a post shared by fellow Nickelodeon alum Alexa Nikolas. After Alexa called out the Boy Meets World actors for supporting Peck amid the trial, several people suggested that Friedle and Strong were “manipulated by him just like anyone else,” and claimed that they were “minors” when they wrote their letters.

Drake Bell in a blue suit with a floral shirt at the Nickelodeon event

Bell immediately took to the comments to respond to one user who wrote, “They were victims too. I listened to that entire podcast and they were manipulated by him just like anyone else. They feel awful. And they were minors. This isn’t black and white.” Bell wrote back, “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.”

Screenshot of Drake Bell's instagram comment

Bell 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 they were told there 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.”

Drake Bell in a plaid suit with a striped tie at an event

He also replied to another user who suggested that Strong “was also a minor at the time” that he wrote his letter supporting Peck. Bell said, “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.”

Screenshot of Drake Bell's comment on Instagram

The second part of Quiet on Set will air tonight.

If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673), which routes the caller to their nearest sexual assault service provider. You can also search for your local center here.

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