Sunday, April 21, 2024

“Boy Meets World” Stars Reveal Lasting Trauma of Defending Sexual Abuser Brian Peck

HomeEntertainment"Boy Meets World" Stars Reveal Lasting Trauma of Defending Sexual Abuser Brian...

In a painfully honest episode of their “Pod Meets World” podcast, actors Will Friedle, Rider Strong and Danielle Fishel opened up about being manipulated and groomed by a guest star from their time on the hit 90s sitcom “Boy Meets World.” The raw conversation centered around Brian Peck, who appeared in a couple episodes during Season 5 before later being convicted of sexually abusing a child actor.

While Peck’s crimes themselves were disturbing, the “Boy Meets World” stars revealed how he took advantage of their youth and fame to ingratiate himself into their lives and betray their trust in profoundly damaging ways.

“I saw him every day, hung out with him every day, talked to him every day,” recalled Friedle, who said Peck quickly became a close friend and confidant despite the 20+ year age gap. Strong echoed this, saying he and Peck hung out “all the time” off set.

Fishel speculated that much of the cast and crew likely didn’t question the inappropriate relationships because they didn’t want to be seen as homophobic towards Peck, who was openly gay. “There was probably a part of them that didn’t say it because they were afraid it was going to be taken as homophobia, instead of ‘This is a boundary, gay or not. This is a boundary between adults and kids,'” she said.

The manipulation continued even after Peck’s eventual arrest in 2003 on charges of sexually abusing another child actor. According to Friedle and Strong, Peck began immediately framing the story as one where he was the victim of an underage sexual aggressor.

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“He didn’t say nothing had happened. It was always in the context of ‘I did this thing, I’m guilty. But I’m the victim of jailbait. There was this hot guy! I just did this thing and he was underage,'” recalled Strong. “And we bought that storyline.”

Believing they were supporting an old friend who had been taken advantage of, Friedle and Strong wrote letters of support for Peck and even appeared at his sentencing hearing. It was only then that the horrifying reality of Peck’s crimes became apparent.

“We’re sitting in that courtroom on the wrong side of everything,” said Friedle, voice wavering with emotion. “The victim’s mother turned and said ‘Look at all the famous people you brought with you. And it doesn’t change what you did to my kid.’ I just sat there wanting to die. It was horrifying all the way around.”

Peck was eventually convicted of several counts of sexual abuse involving a minor and sentenced to over a year in prison. But for Friedle and Strong, the damage of having once defended their abuser has left lasting trauma.

“Getting taken in by somebody who’s a good actor and a manipulator, I could chalk that up to being young,” said Friedle. “But 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.”

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The discussion was prompted by upcoming revelations about past abuse in the “Quiet on Set” documentary, which examines alleged misconduct on several Nickelodeon children’s shows in the late 90s and early 2000s. Fishel said the “Boy Meets World” team knew they needed to directly address their experiences with Peck.

“We knew this deserved a more detailed discussion,” said Fishel. “Especially since we as hosts are still unpacking everything involved, and we know the discourse around this subject has culturally ramped up.”

With raw honesty and self-reflection, the actors recounted the ways Peck took advantage of their youth and the power dynamics at play to groom them as impressionable young stars. Even decades later, the betrayal cuts deep.

“There’s an actual victim here. And he turned us against the victim to where now we’re on his team,” said Friedle, voice cracking with emotion. “That’s the thing where, to me, I look back at that as my ever-loving shame for this entire [thing].”

Strong mirrored the shame and discomfort, admitting “I still feel like we should not be ruining this man’s life more. I still feel that. I think there’s a lot of layers to that. It just makes me so uncomfortable.”

In the end, the candid podcast conversation highlights a truth all too common with abusers – their manipulations often create additional victims and trauma far beyond those directly abused. By courageously opening up about the lingering pain and regret, Friedle, Strong and Fishel hope to raise awareness about these insidious dynamics.

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“I don’t like the idea that we are affecting the cultural memory of ‘Boy Meets World’ with this,” said Strong. “That’s a bummer, because I feel like, in my experience of ‘Boy Meets World,’ it’s not that big of a part of it.”

But for Friedle, addressing this dark chapter is about more than just the show’s legacy. “This has to do with me now, as a 47-year-old man, and the person I’ve become, and this affected me as a person,” he said. “It doesn’t affect my memory of the show in any way, shape or form. As a matter of fact, most of my memories of this person and this manipulation happened after ‘Boy’ for me. So I think people will disconnect the two.”

Ultimately, the trio hopes that by shining a light on the lasting trauma caused by Peck’s betrayal, they can help at least one person caught up in similar dynamics of grooming and manipulation feel supported and less alone.

“The victims in these situations are not just the people who are abused, but the people around them who are manipulated into being complicit,” said Friedle, his voice regaining strength. “Understand that abuse has these layers that extend much further than the direct victim. Hear our story, and don’t feel alone if you’ve been through something similar.”

Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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