‘Boy Meets World’ Alums Talk Grooming, Manipulation & Brian Peck’s Child Sex Abuse Case

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Boy Meets World alums Will Friedle and Rider Strong are opening up about the experiences they had while on the ABC show with Brian Peck in today’s episode of the Pod Meets World podcast. Peck, who had been an actor and dialogue coach on numerous kids TV shows before joining Boy Meets World, appeared as a guest star in two episodes on Season 5 of the coming-of-age sitcom that aired on ABC from 1993-2000.

The February 19 episode of the Pod Meets World podcast features show alums Danielle Fishel, Strong and Friedle discussing “the difficult subjects of grooming, childhood sexual abuse and their effects on victims” with marriage and family therapist Kati Morton. The episode was focused on Peck during his time on Boy Meets World, and who in 2004 pleaded no contest to charges of committing a lewd act against a child on the show. He was convicted, sentenced to 16 months in prison and required to register as a sex offender. Peck also is a participant in Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV, an upcoming four-part ID docuseries that uncovers the toxic and dangerous culture on the sets of Dan Schneider’s Nickelodeon children’s shows in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

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The Pod Meets World podcast usually features Friedle, Strong and Fishel recapping episodes of the show along with behind-the-scenes info on what filming the show was really like. But they diverged today with a different format after being asked to provide a statement about Peck for Quiet On Set, deciding to use their podcast episode instead.

Friedle said he became a friend of Peck’s shortly after he joined the show.

“I didn’t really go to parties. I didn’t really do that stuff. But I was working a lot after Boy Meets World, and this guy had so ingratiated himself into my life, I took him to three shows after Boy Meets World,” Friedle told the co-hosts. “This was the type of thing where the person he presented was this great, funny guy who was really good at his job, and you wanted to hang out with … I saw him every day, hung out with him every day, talked to him every day.”

Strong said he Peck and also spent a lot of time together outside of work, aside from the 20-year age difference between the two.

Fishel shared that cast members would routinely spend time with Peck, who was gay, including lunches.

“‘Why are you guys going to lunch with this guy’? ‘Why is this guy going to Rider’s house for a party?”‘, Fishel said. “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 about adults and kids.’”

When Peck was arrested in 2003, Friedle said the actor called him crying and “instantly spinning it to where it wasn’t his fault, it was clearly the fault of his victim.” Friedle initially believed he was telling the truth. “My instinct initially was, ‘My friend, this can’t be. It’s gotta be the other person’s fault.’ The story makes complete sense the way that he’s saying it.”

Neither Friedle nor Strong realized how serious the case against Peck was.

“He didn’t say that nothing had happened. So by the time we heard about this 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 a victim of jailbait. There was this hot guy! I just did this thing and he’s underage.’ And we bought that storyline.” Rider said. “I never heard about the other things because, back then, you couldn’t Google to find out what people were being charged with. So in retrospect, he was making a plea deal and admitting one thing, which is all he admitted to us, but it looks like he was being charged with a series of crimes, which we did not know.”

Peck had asked Strong and Friedle to support him in court. They agreed, and wrote letters to the judge in Peck’s defense.

“We’re sitting in that courtroom on the wrong side of everything … 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,’” Friedle shared. “I just sat there wanting to die. It was like, ‘What the hell am I doing here?’ It was horrifying all the way around.”

He continued, “We weren’t told the whole story, but it doesn’t change the fact that we did it. I still can’t get the words out to describe all of the things that I’m feeling inside of myself.”

Friedle he is still affected to this day by what he and Strong experienced.

“There’s an actual victim here. And he turned us against the victim to where now we’re on his team. That’s the thing where, to me, I look back at that as my ever-loving shame for this entire [thing],” he said. “Getting taken in by somebody who’s a good actor and a manipulator, I could chalk that up to being young and that’s the way it is. It’s awful. I’m going to use that for my growth as a human being, 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.”

Deadline has reached out to Peck’s representative for comment.

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