Drake Bell Says He Was Sexually Abused as a Child Actor by Nickelodeon Dialogue Coach

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The actor Drake Bell speaks out about being sexually abused when he was 15-years-old in a new documentary series, Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV.

The former Nickelodeon child star comes forward about being abused by Brian Peck in the series, which is set to be released on March 17 and March 18, according to a statement from Investigation Discovery. Peck worked as a dialogue coach on two Nickelodeon shows, All That and The Amanda Show, which Bell appeared on before going on to star in the 2004 show Drake & Josh, Business Insider reports.

In the third episode of the docuseries, Bell talks about the abuse he faced at the hands of Peck when he was 15. “The abuse was extensive, and it got pretty brutal. I don’t know how to elaborate on that on camera, really,” he says. He shares that he met Peck at the start of his career, the beginning of season two of The Amanda Show in 2000. At the time, Bell lived in Orange County, CA with his mother, and his father worked as his manager. He would stay at Peck’s home when he had auditions in Los Angeles—something young actors did often because Peck was trusted by their parents.

“All the parents loved him too. Everyone trusted Brian,” says Kyle Sullivan, who also appeared on The Amanda Show and All That, in the documentary. Some of Peck’s behaviors were odd, Sullivan says and he recalls Peck showing him and some other kids a painting of a birthday clown that Peck claimed was a gift from the serial killer John Wayne Gacy. A message on the back of the painting said: “Brian, I hope you enjoy the painting. Best wishes. Your friend, John Wayne Gacy.” Sullivan said he and the rest of the cast gave Peck "the benefit of the doubt.”

In the documentary, Bell describes the first time he was assaulted by Peck, saying that it happened when he was sleeping on the couch at Peck’s home. “I woke up to him—I opened my eyes, I woke up, and he was sexually assaulting me,” he said. “I froze and was in complete shock and had no idea what to do or how to react, and I have no idea how to get out of this situation.” Bell says he did not say anything because he was worried people would ask questions if he wasn’t staying at Peck’s house.

“He figured out how to convince my mom and everyone around—anytime I would have 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. I was just trapped. I had no way out,” Bell says in the series. Later, he says, his girlfriend’s mother took him to therapy because she sensed he was in danger.

By the time he started doing reshoots for the pilot of Drake and Josh, Bell says Peck was trying to be cast as his dad. This is when Bell “exploded” on the phone with his mom, and told her everything about the abuse, and they went to the police. “I had to be excruciatingly detailed about every single thing, [every] time that it had happened, with two absolute strangers. The worst part was I had to make a phone call to Brian and get him to admit what he’d done,” Bells says in the documentary. He shares that he called Peck and said, “‘I’m really struggling with this stuff now. I’m so torn up, I’m so broken, I’m so emotionally distressed right now. Why did this happen?’" According to Bell, Peck "just started a full-on confession. He kept asking me over and over again, he was like, ‘Are we being recorded?'”

In August 2003, Peck was arrested and charged with sexually abusing a minor. According to a Los Angeles Police Department press release at the time, the unnamed child was being coached by Peck and was abused over a six-month period. During the trial, 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,” Business Insider reports. He was sentenced to 16 months in prison and required to register as a sex offender in 2004.

Variety reports that Peck did some voiceover work on the Disney Channel show The Suite Life of Zack & Cody after he was released from prison. According to the publication, Peck was “never on set and had zero interaction with any cast or crew," adding, per an unnamed source that "when the network learned of his conviction, he was immediately terminated and his voice and on-screen credits on the three episodes had been replaced.”

In a statement, a Nickelodeon spokesperson said that though network could not "corroborate or negate allegations of behaviors from productions decades ago," it investigates all formal complaints as a matter of policy. "Our highest priorities are the well-being and best interests not just of our employees, casts and crew, but of all children, and we have adopted numerous safeguards over the years to help ensure we are living up to our own high standards and the expectations of our audience.”

The spokesperson added: “Now that Drake Bell has disclosed his identity as the plaintiff in the 2004 case, we are dismayed and saddened to learn of the trauma he has endured, and we commend and support the strength required to come forward."

Bell says the stress was “overwhelming,” so much so that he began to lose hair and had scabs on his head. He has struggled with substance abuse and mental health issues and says he continues to work through his trauma.

“I would have stints of sobriety, and then the pressure would be too much, and all of these demons that I had were very difficult to work through,” he says in the documentary. “And so I think a lot of my self-destructive behavior would always just be a temporary fix, and it would always creep back up.” He adds that there was “definitely a slow decline in my mental health, sobriety, DUIs, behaviors that were happening because I was lost.”

Quiet on Set explores the toxic work culture on the set of Dan Schneider's immensely popular children's shows for Nickelodeon, including iCarly, Victorious, Zoey 101, and more, through the accounts of former child stars and crew members.

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Write to Moises Mendez II at moises.mendez@time.com