‘Boy Meets World’ Actors Detail Friendship With Child Abuser

On Monday, the light tone of Pod Meets World, the podcast that takes an anecdote-filled walk through the episodes of hit sitcom Boy Meets World, got serious as the hosts and former sitcom stars discussed grooming, the manipulation of minors and their friendship with a convicted child abuser whom they befriended when he guest-starred on the show.

Podcast hosts Danielle Fishel, Rider Strong and Will Friedle were joined on Monday’s episode by family therapist Kati Morton to discuss “the difficult subjects of grooming, childhood sexual abuse and their effects on victims.” The trio, who portrayed Topanga Lawrence, Shawn Hunter and Eric Matthews on the ABC sitcom that ran from 1993-2000, agreed to be open and honest in their discussion of a person from their past whose name recently emerged — Boy Meets World season five guest star Brian Peck.

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In 2003, Peck was accused of molesting a child. He was subsequently convicted of a lewd act against a child and oral copulation of a person under 16 and spent 16 months in prison. Recently, ahead of the airing of Quiet on Set, an upcoming documentary on alleged abuse at Nickelodeon, both Strong and Friedle were contacted for a statement on Peck, a man whom they had befriended while they were young actors and he was a charismatic man in his 40s who was suddenly in their orbit.

When Peck joined the Boy Meets World cast for a two-episode arc, Strong and Friedle quickly began hanging out with him on set and outside of work — every single day. Friedle recalled on the podcast how well Peck maneuvered into his life.

“I was working a lot after Boy Meets World, and this guy had so ingrained himself into my life, I took him to three shows after Boy Meets World,” Friedle said. “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.”

Peck, an out gay man, may have gotten a pass for hanging around actors 20 years his junior because of his sexuality, the hosts speculated while discussing the fluid attitudes toward the gay community in the mid- to late-’90s and why the parents around the set never commented on these relationships. “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,’” Fishel said.

The actors also discussed the manipulative tactics they say were used on them by Peck, who was helping Fishel’s career at the time that he was accused of the crimes in 2003. Peck, according to the hosts, reversed the situation in his version so he was the real victim, they said. They believed him, and even faced the victim’s family while supporting him in court, they recalled. “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,” Friedle revealed.

Letters were written to the judge overseeing Peck’s case by both actors on his behalf, they said. In court, as the young men sat across from the accuser, they were called out by the victim’s mother. “Look at all the famous people you brought with you. And it doesn’t change what you did to my kid,” Friedle recalled her saying.

“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.”

The episode closes with the group indicating their hope that by having this conversation, they can help even one person realize they are being manipulated or groomed by a bad actor.

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