James Marsden and Others Wrote Letters of Support for Brian Peck in Drake Bell Sexual Abuse Case

Which Stars Supported Brian Peck in Drake Bell Case
Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images; Presley Ann/WireImage
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Investigation Discovery's docuseries on Nickelodeon unsealed the letters of support dialogue coach Brian Peck received after being arrested for sexually abusing actor Drake Bell in 2003.

The contents of the letters were briefly shown during the fourth episode of Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV, which will air on Monday, March 18. Directors Mary Robertson and Emma Schwartz confirmed to Us Weekly that they petitioned the Los Angeles court to unseal the court documents while making the docuseries.

According to journalist Kate Taylor, the letters asked the judge to grant Peck, now 63, probation at the time. Taylor noted it’s unclear how much Peck's friends knew about the charges against Peck.

Peck was a crew member who worked in front of and behind the camera on dozens of Hollywood productions. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Peck was employed on several of producer Dan Schneider’s projects at Nickelodeon.

Peck was arrested after an unnamed child star accused him of sexual abuse. The 11 charges brought against Peck included oral copulation, sodomy and forcible penetration. He pleaded no contest to two charges of child sexual abuse and was sentenced to 16 months in prison in 2004. He is now a registered sex offender.

Hollywood’s Sexual Misconduct Scandals

During the ID docuseries, Bell, now 37, revealed he was the then-minor involved in the lawsuit. He recalled being surprised when people packed into the courtroom to support Peck (who has no relation to Bell’s former Nickelodeon costar Josh Peck) on the day the dialogue coach was set to be sentenced.

"On the day of sentencing for Brian, I get to the courthouse and it was the most unbelievable thing you have ever seen," Bell, 37, told cameras. "His entire side of the courtroom was full. There were definitely some recognizable faces on that side of the room and my side was me, my mom and my brother."

Bell added: "I addressed my statement to everyone in the room. I looked at all of them and I just said, 'How dare you. 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 are defending violating me and doing unspeakable acts and crimes. And that is what I will remember.'"

The docuseries didn't specify which celebrities publicly showed their support for Peck in court. However, James Marsden, Taran Killam, Alan Thicke and Ron Melendez were some of the stars to contribute the 41 letters of support, which Peck provided to the judge. It’s noted that neither Schneider, 58, nor top executives at Nickelodeon wrote any letters.

Bell pointed out that Schneider — whom he worked with on The Amanda Show and Drake & Josh — offered him support after finding out he was involved in the case.

"The only person I remember being there for me is Dan," Bell said in the docuseries.

While speaking to Us, Quiet on Set directors Robertson and Schwartz discussed the process of unsealing the documents.

“We began hearing from people who had been at Nickelodeon around this time that they had been asked to write letters of support. I had been a court reporter so I knew in general that letters of support are supposed to be public documents,” Schwartz explained. “But when we went to the court, they were not public. So we spoke with our lawyers and we said, ‘What can we do?’ And they said, ‘Well, you can petition the court to unseal them.’”

She continued: “That's in fact what we did. And the court agreed to release those letters. We didn't know what we would find. We didn't know who would be in there. And that's what you see in the documentary.”

Robertson addressed whether they were concerned about the public response from people who wrote the letters, concluding, “The letters have been entered into the public record, they're available.”

Keep scrolling for a breakdown of some of the familiar names who supported Peck at the time — and their letters:

Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV airs on ID Sunday, March 17, and Monday, March 18, at 9 p.m. ET.

James Marsden

Which Stars Supported Brian Peck in Drake Bell Case
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

After working with Peck on movies such as Public Enemies and X-Men, Marsden, 50, reflected on their friendship in his letter.

"I can easily say that Brian is one of the reasons why I have been as successful as I have been in this industry," Marsden wrote at the time. "I was lucky enough to have been graced with Brian's guidance, uncommissioned guidance I might add, and support in pursuing an acting career."

Marsden referred to Peck as a "mentor" to him, adding, "I don't mean to dramatize this but I am speaking wholeheartedly about a man who's heart is pure and no matter what you're talking about, his intentions are always good. He has such an amazing capacity to care about people. This, I find, is very rare. Especially in Hollywood. Brian genuinely cares about other human beings."

According to the docuseries, Marsden compared Peck's suffering after his arrest to that of "a hundred men."

"When I first heard the news of Brian's arrest I couldn't breathe. I could not believe what was happening. It was unimaginable," he concluded. "I've known Brian for 14 years and never once did I ever see any sign of him being capable of something like this. 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. I don't know what it would take to have something like this occur, whatever it is, it is extremely out of character for Brian."

Marsden was also mentioned in X-Men producer Thomas DeSanto's letter about Peck. DeSanto, 56, noted that Peck served as Marsden's best man when he married Lisa Linde in 2000. (Us Weekly has reached out to Marsden for comment.)

Former Nickelodeon Stars Address Their Behind-the-Scenes Experience at the Network: Jennette McCurdy, Jamie Lynn Spears, Ariana Grande and More

Taran Killam

Which Stars Supported Brian Peck in Drake Bell Case
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

"I first met Brian Peck four years ago while working together on a television show. We instantly became friends, which seems to be a common response to meeting Brian," the comedian, 41, wrote in his letter. "Over the years, Brian has become one of my dearest friends. I know him quite well on both a professional and personal level. Brian has to be one of the most well liked people I have ever known. I think this has to do a great deal with his generosity, genuine concern for other's well being, and especially his honesty."

Killam referred to Peck's arrest as "too out of character."

"When I found out about Brian being arrested I was shocked. Brian is the last person I would expect to be charged with criminal activities. My first thought was, 'This is a mistake.' I know many of our mutual friends had similar thoughts," he added. "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."

Killam concluded: There has yet to be a set that I work on, where someone doesn't know Brian, and also doesn't think the world of him. He honestly is one of the most well liked, well-respected people in this business."

(Us Weekly has reached out to Killam for comment.)

Tom DeSanto

Which Stars Supported Brian Peck in Drake Bell Case
Michael Kovac/Getty Images

Following their time working together on X-Men, DeSanto had nothing but praise for Peck.

"The Brian Peck that I know is a man who is always there when a friend is in need," DeSanto wrote. “The Brian Peck I know [is] a well respected and loved professional who has worked in the entertainment industry for over 20 years. That is why his arrest was so surprising and totally out of character. He has worked with actors as a coach for many years with never one whisper of improper conduct. His actors speak of him in the highest regard and continue their friendship even after the working relationship has ended."

Before the docuseries' premiere, DeSanto issued a statement to Us Weekly, which read, “Having dedicated a significant portion of my career to shedding light on systemic abuse and advocating for those without a voice, these experiences have profoundly shaped my understanding of responsibility and advocacy and is at the core of who I am."

He continued: “My decisions at the time were based on incomplete information given to me, and I lacked full awareness of the gravity of the accusations. 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. This situation underscores the critical importance of due diligence and the relentless pursuit of truth, especially when it comes to standing in solidarity with survivors of abuse.”

Child Stars: Where Are They Now? Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Hilary Duff and More

Rider Strong and Will Friedle

Which Stars Supported Brian Peck in Drake Bell Case
David Livingston/FilmMagic

The Boy Meets World costars addressed their past friendship with Peck shortly before the docuseries was released. (Strong, 44, and Friedle, 47, met Peck during his time as a guest star on their hit sitcom, which ran from 1993 to 2000.)

Their letters were also featured on Quiet on Set, with one stating, "It was extremely disturbing to learn of Brian's arrest. 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. I immediately called him and offered whatever support I could. Of course, Brian being Brian, he had already received numerous such calls."

Strong clarified on his "Pod Meets World" podcast last month that he wasn't aware of the charges brought against Peck.

“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 story line,” Strong 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.”

Friedle, meanwhile, expressed regret at attending Peck's sentencing.

“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,'” he recalled. “I just sat there wanting to die. It was like, ‘What the hell am I doing here?’ It was horrifying all the way around.”

Friedle added: “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.”

Alan Thicke

Which Stars Supported Brian Peck in Drake Bell Case
Andrew Chin/Getty Images

"I worked with Brian Peck daily from 1987 through 1991 and found him to be a highly professional and nurturing mentor of the young people on our television set. Because he was never inappropriate in any way around children, including my own two young sons, I was shocked and saddened to learn of the trouble he was in," the late actor wrote at the time of the case. "Knowing him as I did, I also know beyond a doubt how remorseful he is and how dedicated and focused he will be on his rehabilitation. 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 died in 2016 at age 69 from a ruptured aorta.

‘Growing Pains’ Cast: Where Are They Now? Kirk Cameron, Tracey Gold, More

Joanna Kerns

Which Stars Supported Brian Peck in Drake Bell Case
Vivien Killilea/Getty Images

In addition to Thicke, whom he met on the set of Growing Pains, Peck received support from former costar Kerns, 71, as well. The docuseries quoted a section of Kerns' letter, which read, "I can only believe there must have been some extreme situation or temptation exerted upon him to influence his actions."

Kerns issued a statement in response to her show of support for Peck, which was included in Quiet on Set. "I have now learned that my letter of support was based on complete misinformation," she stated. "Knowing what I know now, I never would have written the letter."

Kimmy Robertson

Which Stars Supported Brian Peck in Drake Bell Case
Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

Robertson, 69, who appeared in Peck's 1990 movie The Willies, wrote in a letter to the judge, "I believe with all my heart that Brian was pressured and pushed beyond belief before he caved in."

(Us Weekly has reached out to Robertson for comment.)

Rich and Beth Correll

Which Stars Supported Brian Peck in Drake Bell Case
Michael Tullberg/Getty Images

The couple stood by Peck at the time, with Rich, 75, writing in his letter, "It would be my pleasure to work with him again." Rich and Beth, 58, professionally crossed paths with Peck two years after he was sentenced for child sexual abuse when they worked together on The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.

The Corrells released a statement for the docuseries, which noted that "they had no input or involvement in the casting" of Peck on the Disney show. They said when they asked him about the case, "Mr. Peck simply replied that 'The problem had been resolved.'"

(Us Weekly has reached out to Rick and Beth for comment.)

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).