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Drake Bell Details Sexual Assault and ‘Extensive’ Abuse at 15 by Brian Peck, Explains ‘Self-Destructive Behavior’ That Followed

For the first time, Drake Bell is opening up about being sexually assaulted by Nickelodeon dialogue and acting coach Brian Peck.

“Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV,” the upcoming ID documentary airing March 17 and 18, dives into both the alleged emotional abuse by Nick creator Dan Schneider and the physical abuse by Brian Peck.

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In 2003, Peck, 43 at the time, was arrested on 11 charges — including sodomy, lewd act upon a child 14 or 15 by a person 10 years older, and oral copulation by anesthesia or controlled substance — but the minor was not named until now.

“My name is Drake Bell and I came here today to tell my story,” Bell says during the documentary’s third episode, before detailing his close relationship with Peck, whom he met at the beginning of Season 2 of “The Amanda Show.”

At first, Bell’s father was his manager and became uncomfortable about how much time Peck was spending time with his son, so much so that he went to production and told them. “I go, ‘I don’t see anything abnormal but it just doesn’t — I don’t have a good feeling,'” he said. At the time, Joe Bell claims production told him that Peck is gay and said, “Maybe you’re just homophobic and you just don’t understand that he’s a touchy-feely guy.”

He “backed off” after feeling “ostracized,” and eventually, was pushed out of his son’s life. Because Drake Bell and his mother lived in Orange County, it seemed easier to stay at Peck’s home in L.A. when he had an audition.

Spending time at Peck’s home wasn’t irregular for the kids of Nickelodeon. “All the parents loved him too. Everyone trusted Brian,” said Kyle Sullivan, who appeared on “The Amanda Show and “All That.”

Sullivan also recounted a BBQ at Peck’s house, where he had a shrine to “The Planet of the Apes” in the garage and one painting that didn’t belong — a birthday clown with balloons. When the kids asked Peck about it, he proudly showed them that it was a gift from serial killer John Wayne Gacy, and on the back was a message: “Brian, I hope you enjoy the painting. Best wishes. Your friend, John Wayne Gacy.”

Additionally, he showed them letters and photos in the nightstand in his bedroom from Gacy, as they’d become penpals while Gacy was in prison.

“Your instinct is to give someone the benefit of the doubt if you’ve known them for that long, even in the face of this really bad sign,” said Sullivan. “This man, who is like trusted as basically a supervisor of kids, is not safe.”

Bell, for his part, also gave him the benefit of the doubt. He spent many nights at Peck’s and then, “everything changed with Brian one morning,” he said.

“I was sleeping on the couch where I would usually sleep. I woke up to him — I opened my eyes, I woke up and he was sexually assaulting me. 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 said. Fifteen at the time, he didn’t know what to do and it “became this secret” because he knew that if he stopped going to Peck’s, people would ask questions. Peck was “so apologetic,” saying it would never happen again.

“He figured out how to convince my mom and everyone around to, 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,” said Bell. “The abuse was extensive and it got pretty brutal. I don’t know how to elaborate on that on camera, really… Why don’t you think of the worst stuff that someone could do to somebody as a sexual assault, and then I’ll answer your question. I don’t know how else to put it.”

Bell didn’t immediately go to the police, but says in the documentary that his girlfriend’s mother knew something was off after Peck called repeatedly one night when he was at the house. In fact, she then took him to a therapist after fearing he was in danger. “I was just so scared to say anything, I didn’t know how to explain [it.] I still don’t… I’ve never talked about this outside of therapy. I just said, ‘No, everything’s normal, things are getting a little weird but nothing’s happened. Good thing we caught it when we did.'”

THE AMANDA SHOW, Drake Bell, Josh Peck, Amanda Bynes, Nancy Sullivan, 1999-2002. © Nickelodeon Network/ Courtesy: Everett Collection.
Drake Bell, Josh Peck, Amanda Bynes and Nancy Sullivan, “The Amanda Show”

Bell shortly began realizing how “calculated” Peck was, he recalled, calling the entire situation “mental manipulation.” Since the acting coach knew so many producers in Hollywood, “he had the ability to basically go, ‘Well you’re never going to work with this person,'” Bell said. “So it was me believing that I would never be able to do this again… I didn’t want to risk that. I was doing what I loved to do, so I just kept it inside.”

Shortly after, he began reshooting the “Drake & Josh” pilot and said Peck tried to get cast as the dad on the show. Bell recalled, “I was like, ‘That is not going to happen, you’re not coming anywhere near this show.'” Soon after, he “exploded” on the phone with his mom, telling her everything. She immediately called the police and a “brutal” investigation began.

“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,” Bell said before recalling that the setup “looked like a movie,” as the police listened in on the phone call. “I 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?’ He just started a full-on confession. He kept asking me over and over again, he was like, ‘Are we being recorded?'”

Bell’s stress was overwhelming. “I was losing my hair, I had these big scabs on my head,” he said. “These emotions that were going through me, it’s relief and fear. You know, am I going to survive this?”

After the August 2003 arrest, Schneider called him and asked if Peck’s arrest had anything to do with him.

“I was close enough with Dan that I was like ‘Yeah man, this is what he’s been doing.’ Dan just goes, ‘You don’t need to talk anymore about it. That’s all I need to hear. Are you ok? Do you need anything from me? Is there anything that you need?'” he recalled. “Brian was spending so much time around me that it was pretty obvious.”

Soon after the arrest, after a table read for “All That,” Sullivan claims that Schneider asked the parents to leave the room for “our friends” to speak to the kids. The kids were told Peck wouldn’t be there anymore, asking if anyone had anything to say. Schneider told the doc producers that he had no part in telling the “All That” family what had transpired.

SANTA MONICA, CA - APRIL 12:  Actors Drake Bell and Josh Peck of the "Drake and Josh" show pose during arrivals for Nickelodeon's 16th Annual Kids' Choice Awards at the Barker Hangar April 12, 2003 in Santa Monica, California.  (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Drake Bell and Josh Peck at the Nickelodeon’s 16th Annual Kids’ Choice Awards, April 12, 2003

At the time, no one at Nick knew who the victim was — and it remained that way. A few weeks after Peck’s arrest, Bell started filming “Drake & Josh” and loved what he was doing, but still “didn’t know how to process” the happiness and excitement of filming with the trauma he had experienced. “I think that led to a lot of self-destruction and a lot of self-loathing. I would try and just escape with alcohol abuse, substance abuse, really just anything to escape.”

Peck’s sentencing wasn’t until more than a year later in October 2004.

“I was hoping that the outcome would be that he goes to jail, he is there for a while and that he would never be able to work with kids again, which would in turn pretty much mean that you’re not gonna work in Hollywood, because very few productions don’t have a least one kid on the set,” said Bell. “That’s not what happened at all.”

When it came time for the hearing in October, walking into the courtroom was “the most unbelievable thing I’ve ever seen,” Bell said, explaining that Peck’s side was full of supporters — including famous faces. (Former “Boy Meets World” star Will Friedle previously revealed he attended the hearing, as he had been manipulated by Peck.)

After Bell’s mother made a statement, Bell took the stand. While he felt he had “no reason” to address Peck, he did address the room. “I looked at all of them and I just said, ‘How dare you?’ I said, ‘You will forever have the memory of sitting in this courtroom and defending this person. And I will forever have the memory of the person you’re defending violating me and doing unspeakable acts and crimes and that’s what I will remember.’”

In addition, there were 41 letters written to the judge — all of which were sealed until now — by friends, family and colleagues defending Peck’s character. Many victim blamed, claiming that Peck must have been facing major “temptation” or had been “pressured and pushed beyond belief” if he did any of those things. Most shared how shocked they were by the allegations and most asked to give Peck probation. “Drake & Josh” director Rich Correll and stage manager Beth Correll both wrote letters in defense, with Rich Correll saying it would be his pleasure to work with Peck again.

Peck pleaded no contest to two charges of child sexual abuse. He was sentenced to 16 months in prison and ordered to register as a sex offender. After his release, Peck landed a job on Disney Channel’s “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody,” working again with the Corells. They told the producers of the documentary that they had “no input or involvement in the casting” of Peck and that when they asked him about the case, “Mr Peck. simply replied that ‘the problem had been resolved.’”

Variety confirmed that Peck performed voiceover work on three episodes of “Suite Life,” was never on set and had zero interaction with any cast or crew. One insider confirms 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.

For his part, Bell has had his fair share of legal troubles following his time on Nickelodeon, some of which he approached in the doc.

“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. 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 said, noting that he lost his house when he went through bankruptcy and later got a DUI. “There was definitely a slow decline in my mental health, sobriety, DUIs, behaviors that were happening because I was lost.”

In 2021, Bell was arrested and pleaded guilty to charges of attempted child endangerment and disseminating matter harmful to juveniles. He was sentenced to two years probation and 200 hours of community service. “I took responsibility for that, I did what was asked of me,” he said in the doc. “The media grabbed ahold of so much misinformation and it absolutely destroyed me, and I started to spin out of control.”

In 2023, Bell made headlines again when the police announced he was “missing and endangered.” While not specifically addressing the incident, Bell said, “If I had continued down that path, that could very likely be the end of my story… I was at rock bottom and so, I checked in to treatment and I got to go through a lot of trauma therapy, a lot of grief therapy and be surrounded by people who, for the first time in a long time, wanted to just see me get better.”

Peck has not responded to Variety‘s request for comment.

A spokesperson for Nickelodeon gave the following statement to Variety: “Though we cannot corroborate or negate allegations of behaviors from productions decades ago, Nickelodeon as a matter of policy investigates all formal complaints as part of our commitment to fostering a safe and professional workplace environment free of harassment or other kinds of inappropriate conduct. 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.”

Regarding Bell, 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.”

Schneider also released the following statement at the end of the documentary: “Everything that happened on the shows I ran was carefully scrutinized by dozens of involved adults. All stories, dialogue, costumes, and makeup were fully approved by network executives on two coasts. A standards and practices group read and ultimately approved every script, and programming executives reviewed and approved all episodes. In addition, every day on set, there were always parents and caregivers and their friends watching us rehearse and film.”

“Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV” premieres across two nights on ID at 9 p.m. on Sunday, March 17 and Monday, March 18. Episodes will also stream on Max.

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