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Read the letters that celebrities including James Marsden, Alan Thicke, and Rider Strong wrote supporting the acting coach charged with sexually abusing Drake Bell

Drake Bell in episode two of the Investigation Discovery docuseries "Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV."
Drake Bell during episode two of the Investigation Discovery docuseries "Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV."Investigation Discovery
  • Forty-one family members and friends wrote letters in support of dialogue coach Brian Peck.

  • Peck was charged in 2003 with sexually abusing an unnamed child, who was recently revealed to be Drake Bell.

  • Some letters were written by celebrities including James Marsden, Alan Thicke, and Rider Strong.

Investigation Discovery's four-part docuseries "Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV" is filled with new revelations about the unsettling behind-the-scenes activity at Nickelodeon, and the people who turned a blind eye to it.

Episodes three and four, released on Monday night, feature "The Amanda Show" and "Drake & Josh" star Drake Bell, who opens up for the first time about being sexually abused by his acting coach, Brian Peck, when he was 15 years old.

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Peck was arrested in August 2003 on 11 charges of child sexual abuse. In October 2004, he was sentenced to 16 months in jail and ordered to register as a sex offender.

But before the judge sentenced him, 41 of Peck's friends and family — including notable celebrities — wrote letters in support of the dialogue coach. It's unclear what these supporters were told about Peck's crimes. The letters were sealed until Maxine Productions, one of the docuseries' producers, successfully petitioned the court to unseal them in 2023.

"There were so many people in power that tried to protect this person," Bell told Business Insider's Kate Taylor in March. "Not only people in power but people that I considered friends."

"Seeing that some of these people were friends of mine later in life, people that I'd worked with later in life, and having no idea that they had written letters — that's just a new thing to process," Bell added.

Here's a look at some of those letters, written by celebrities including James Marsden, Alan Thicke, and Rider Strong.

Actor James Marsden said that he "couldn't breathe" when he learned of Peck's arrest.

James Marsden's letter to the judge in support of Brian Peck.
James Marsden's letter to the judge in support of Brian Peck.Los Angeles County Superior Court courtesy of Maxine Productions

Marsden said that he was a "close friend" of Peck's and they met through a mutual actor acquaintance. In his letter, Marsden credited Peck with encouraging him to move to LA to pursue acting and said the dialogue coach was "one of the reasons why I have been as successful as I have been in this industry."

The "Jury Duty" star also said that Peck was a willing mentor who taught him the ropes in Hollywood. Marsden said that Peck's arrest was "unimaginable."

"I've known Brian for 14 years and never once did I ever see any sign of him being capable of something like this," Marsden wrote. "I have lived at his house for months and shared hotel rooms with him and never once did he ever make me feel compromised or uncomfortable in any way."

(Maxine Productions and Business Insider reached out to Marsden for comment but did not receive a response.)

Taran Killam, who worked on multiple Nickelodeon shows before "Saturday Night Live," said that Peck was "one of my dearest friends."

Taran Killam's letter to the judge in support of Brian Peck.
Taran Killam's letter to the judge in support of Brian Peck.Los Angeles County Superior Court courtesy of Maxine Productions

Killam appeared on "The Amanda Show," "All That," and "Drake & Josh." He said that he "instantly became friends" with Peck when they first met a few years earlier.

Killam said he was "shocked" by Peck's arrest and called it "too out of character."

"I have seen the [effects] this situation has had on Brian and I know for a fact that he regrets any mistakes made and that this is certainly not something that would ever happen again," he wrote.

(Maxine Productions reached out to Killam for comment but did not receive a response.)

"Growing Pains" star Alan Thicke described Peck as an "honorable, respectable, intelligent human being."

Alan Thicke's 2004 letter to the judge in support of Brian Peck.
Alan Thicke's 2004 letter to the judge in support of Brian Peck.Los Angeles County Superior Court courtesy of Maxine Productions

Thicke, who died in 2016, was best known for his role as patriarch Jason Seaver on "Growing Pains." In his letter to the judge, he said that Peck was a "highly professional and nurturing mentor" to the children on the set of the sitcom.

"Brian's integrity and self-respect have always been important to him and this turn of events has been mortifying to him in ways that will only make him a better, stronger citizen in the future," Thicke wrote.

Actor Joanna Kerns, who worked with Peck for seven years on "Growing Pains," called him "a good man that made a mistake, not a bad man who got caught."

Joanna Kerns' letter to the judge in support of Brian Peck.
Joanna Kerns' letter to the judge in support of Brian Peck.Los Angeles County Superior Court courtesy of Maxine Productions

In her letter, Kerns called Peck "gifted" at his job and said that he was a big help to the kids on the set of "Growing Pains."

"In the seven years we worked together there was never a second of doubt about his appropriateness with the children he worked with," Kerns wrote.

"I have never known Brian to engage in the type of illegal activity with which he is charged and can only believe that there must have been some extreme situation or temptation exerted upon him to influence his actions," she added.

Kerns told the producers of "Quiet on Set" that her letter of support was based on misinformation.

"Knowing what I know now, I never would have written it," she said.

(Business Insider also reached out to Kearns for comment.)

"General Hospital" actor Ron Melendez called Peck "extremely generous with his time and energy" and devoted to his inner circle.

Ron Melendez's letter to the judge in support of Brian Peck.
Ron Melendez's letter to the judge in support of Brian Peck.Los Angeles County Superior Court courtesy of Maxine Productions

Melendez said that he had known Brian for more than 10 years and lived with him during two different time periods. His letter, like some others, contained victim-blaming language.

Melendez said that he was familiar with the relationship between Peck and Bell (who was referred to as "John Doe" at the time to protect his identity).

"I have met his family, seen his behavior, and understood that there were problems," he said of Bell. "I saw him pursue a friendship with Brian, maintain their close ties; saw his parents cede more and more of their parental duties to Brian."

"Brian made a large mistake, but it was not his alone," Melendez added.

(Maxine Productions reached out to Melendez for comment but did not receive a response.)

"X-Men" producer Tom DeSanto wrote that jail time would be "detrimental" to Peck's efforts to "pull his life back together."

Tom DeSanto's letter to the judge in support of Brian Peck.
Tom DeSanto's letter to the judge in support of Brian Peck.Los Angeles County Superior Court courtesy of Maxine Productions

DeSanto met Peck when he visited Marsden on the set of "X-Men," where the actor portrayed Scott Summers/Cyclops, in 1999. He described Peck as "a well-respected and loved professional," and said his arrest was "surprising" and uncharacteristic.

In parts of the letter that were redacted to keep Bell anonymous in the case, DeSanto said that the TV star "came across as very mature yet complex."

DeSanto said that Bell "was dealing with a lot of personal issues and Brian was someone he could talk to." He also said that the actor behaved differently with various people and "seemed to be very fearful of his father and unable to communicate with him whatever sexual issues he was going through at the time."

"I know Brian has learned from his mistakes and if I had children, I would be 100% comfortable leaving them in his care," the producer wrote.

(Maxine Productions reached out to DeSanto for comment but did not receive a response.)

In a statement to People on March 13, a representative for DeSanto said he had incomplete information and "lacked full awareness of the gravity of the accusations" at the time. "With the knowledge and understanding I possess today, I want to personally apologize to Drake and his family and emphatically state that had I been fully informed of all the accusations, my support would have been absolutely withheld."

"Boy Meets World" star Will Friedle said that he never thought he'd have to defend "such an honest and ethical friend."

Will Friedle's letter to the judge in support of Brian Peck.
Will Friedle's letter to the judge in support of Brian Peck.Los Angeles County Superior Court courtesy of Maxine Productions

In his letter, Friedle said that he met Peck on the set of "Boy Meets World," which ran for seven years. He emphasized that the set was "full of children" and he didn't see Peck act inappropriately with anyone.

"Brian has always shown himself to be a man of integrity and honor," Friedle wrote.

"I can only stress and honestly state that Brian must have felt an overwhelming sense [of] pressure and temporary loss of reason," he added. "It would be a case of a very good person slipping."

(Maxine Productions and Business Insider reached out to Friedle for comment but did not receive a response.)

"Boy Meets World" star Rider Strong also wrote a letter in support of Peck, calling him "one of the most dependable people."

Rider Strong's letter to the judge in support of Brian Peck.
Rider Strong's letter to the judge in support of Brian Peck.Los Angeles County Superior Court courtesy of Maxine Productions

"It was extremely disturbing to learn of Brian's arrest," Strong wrote. "Maliciousness is so antithetical to his nature, it is impossible for me to comprehend a situation that would lead him to do something illegal or even inappropriate."

Ahead of the release of "Quiet on Set," Strong, Friedle, and costar Danielle Fishel spoke about Peck, who guest-starred on "Boy Meets World," on their podcast titled "Pod Meets World."

Strong and Friedle said that Peck claimed that he was the victim who was taken advantage of. In addition to writing letters in support of Peck, they also attended his sentencing at the courthouse.

"We weren't told the whole story, but it doesn't change the fact that we did it," Friedle said. "I still can't get the words out to describe all of the things that I'm feeling inside of myself."

(Maxine Productions and Business Insider reached out to Strong for comment but did not receive a response.)

Kimmy Robertson, who appeared on some Nickelodeon shows, met Peck on her first-ever acting job and said they became "best friends."

Kimmy Robertson's letter to the judge in support of Brian Peck.
Kimmy Robertson's letter to the judge in support of Brian Peck.Los Angeles County Superior Court courtesy of Maxine Productions

Robertson met Peck through the 1982 film "The Last American Virgin." In her hand-written letter to the judge, Robertson discussed her experience guest starring on a season one episode of "Drake & Josh" and her observations of Bell.

"I noticed this young man kept asking me about Brian and generally being 'sleuth-like,'" she wrote. "I also noticed no gay male i.e. make-up/hair, or PA want to be alone in a room with him."

Robertson said she believed that Peck was "pressured" and appeared to call Bell, whose name is redacted, "an outrageous, overtly gay, oversexed person."

"He totally took advantage of Brian's willingness to help anyone who needs it," she wrote.

(Maxine Productions reached out to Robertson for comment but did not receive a response.)

Directors Beth and Rich Correll vouched for Peck's integrity in their letters to the judge.

Beth and Rich Correll's letters to the judge in support of Brian Peck.
Beth and Rich Correll's letters to the judge in support of Brian Peck.Los Angeles County Superior Court courtesy of Maxine Productions

The husband and wife duo had experience working on Nickelodeon series like "The Amanda Show," "All That," "Drake & Josh," and "Zoey 101."

"Every show that Brian and I have worked on together has had children on it," Beth wrote. "And without exception, to my knowledge, every one of those children and their parents enjoyed Brian's company, support, talent, and experience and always looked forward to working with him again."

"Many times I've seen him perform above and beyond the call of duty and it would be my pleasure to not only work with him again, but also to recommend him for any future work," Rich wrote in his letter.

After Peck's conviction, the Corrells ended up working with him on the Disney Channel series "The Suite Life of Zack & Cody."

The Corrells said in a statement to the producers of "Quiet on Set" that they "had no input or involvement in the casting" of Peck on "The Suite Life." They said that when they asked Peck about the case, he "simply replied that 'the problem had been resolved.'"

Read the original article on Business Insider