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Drake Bell's Dad Recalls Finding Out About Son's Sex Abuse by Brian Peck: 'I'm Not the Same Today'

The parents of former Nickelodeon child actors Drake Bell and Bryan Hearne long had suspicions about what was going on behind the scenes

Joe Bell (left) and Tracey Brown in
Joe Bell (left) and Tracey Brown in 'Quiet on Set'

The parents of some former child actors who have recently spoken out about their experiences while working at Nickelodeon in the docuseries Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV say that they voiced their concerns about the treatment of their children at the time.

The four-part Investigation Discovery series, which premiered over two nights on March 17 and March 18, details allegations of a toxic and dangerous culture behind some of the most iconic children’s shows of the late 1990s and early 2000s, including many series produced by Dan Schneider.

The docuseries features a slew of disturbing bombshells and allegations, including the sexual abuse Drake Bell repeatedly endured as a 15-year-old child actor at the hands of his then-dialogue coach Brian Peck, and the traumatic experiences Bryan Hearne says he dealt with as one of the few Black actors during his tenure on All That.

Related: The Biggest Bombshells from 'Quiet on Set,' the Docuseries Alleging Toxic Culture on Nickelodeon Shows

After Peck’s arrest on sex crimes charges in 2003, Drake’s father, Joe Bell — whose relationship with his son had become strained as Peck insinuated himself in Drake's life — wasn’t surprised when Drake told him about the arrest, but became emotional when he later learned who Peck’s victim was. (Drake’s identity was not made public at the time since he was a minor.)

“I’m not the same today,” Joe tells a producer through tears. “The pain’s still there from the moment that I knew. I don’t wish this on any parent or child whatsoever. It’s just devastating.”

In 2004, Peck pleaded no contest to a charge of oral copulation with a minor under 16 as well as a charge of performing a lewd act with a 14- or 15-year-old. Peck spent 16 months in prison and was mandated to register as a sex offender.

Drake and Peck met in 2000 while on the set of the second season of Nickelodeon's The Amanda Show. Peck was a dialogue coach who befriended him and would invite him to his house for acting lessons. Joe says in the docuseries he was told that Peck was a skilled coach who could help Drake secure more acting gigs.

Related: Actor Drake Bell Was Sexually Assaulted by Nickelodeon Dialogue Coach: 'It Was Extensive and Brutal'

While Joe says he was “always within eye distance” of Peck and Drake as they worked together, he started to become uncomfortable with the relationship that was developing between them.

"Unfortunately, I started seeing Brian start to just hang around Drake too much and it didn't sit well with me," Joe says in the docuseries. He claims that while his son was in his dressing room, Peck would touch Drake in front of others in ways that made him question Peck’s intentions.

After some time, Joe expressed his concerns with production personnel and said he was uncomfortable with Peck, who also appeared on screen as "Pickle Boy," always being around his son. When Joe raised concerns, he claims he was "ostracized" on set and "backed off.”

Related: Where Is Brian Peck Now? All About His Sexual Assault Case and Prison Sentence

Bryan Hearne's Mom Says Show Racially Stereotyped Her Son

Joe wasn't the only parent who says they openly expressed misgivings about the behavior he witnessed at the network.

In the docuseries, Tracey Brown, the mother of All That alum Bryan Hearne, says she was not afraid to point out her discomfort in watching her son be cast in what she and her son believe was a racially stereotyped role as a teen who sold cookies, in an apparent reference to drug dealing.

Related: Former All That Child Star Bryan Hearne Alleges He Was Called a ‘Piece of Charcoal’ While Working at Nickelodeon (Exclusive)

“They set up the scene like he was selling drugs,” Brown says in the docuseries. “And I was like, ‘Oh the Black kid gets to be the crack dealer?’”

Brown explains that there was a moment at the end of the scene where an adult appeared to be getting a massage from a young girl and when she pointed it out, along with other “adult jokes” she deemed inappropriate for children’s shows, she claims she was asked to stay quiet.

“I was complaining too much,” Brown says. “I became the oddball.”

<p>Investigation Discovery</p> Drake Bell (left) and Bryan Hearne in 'Quiet on Set'

Investigation Discovery

Drake Bell (left) and Bryan Hearne in 'Quiet on Set'

Hearne recalled his skin tone being referred to as "charcoal" while he got fitted for a leotard in a sketch in which he was known as the world's youngest rapper. While that also didn’t sit well with his mother, she says she was asked by an agent to remain silent in order for her son to remain employed.

Hearne also told PEOPLE he felt like he was treated differently than some of the other non-Black child actors on All That and that his relationship with Schneider  — who left Nickelodeon in 2018 after an internal investigation into his allegedly verbally abusive and demanding behavior on set — was “non-existent.”

“I kind of knew by this time, I was the real problem,” Brown says in the docuseries. “Dan [Schneider] treated Bryan with caution. Like, he side-eyed him.”

Schneider recently responded to the allegations made against him in Quiet on Set.

Related: Dan Schneider Responds in On-Camera Video to Disturbing Revelations in Quiet on Set: 'Owe Some People a Strong Apology'

"Diversity has always been very important to my shows," Schneider explained in a 20-minute YouTube video with BooG!e, who played T-Bo on iCarly, on March 19. "If you go back to the very first show, I haven't made that very evident as it is in the second one, and in the very first movie I made after that. I'm very proud of that."

"I'm exceptionally proud of these people who had been on my shows. They go on to bigger better things," he added.

Hearne believes he was kicked off All That after two seasons because his mother repeatedly questioned the environment on set in order to protect him.

Brown recalled the moment her son was let go, saying through tears, "The day that we were told…in that moment, he grew up, and his body language showed it. [It] just showed this man protruding out, and that’s a man that didn’t trust his mom anymore. It ruined us.”

Brown then foreshadows the arrests of sexual predators such as Peck and production assistant Jason Handy (who was sentenced in 2004 to six years in prison for sex crimes involving minors, including an 11-year-old actress on The Amanda Show) saying she "had no idea what I was saving my son from."

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“It was a house of horrors. No kidding. House of horrors.”

In a statement to PEOPLE regarding alleged behaviors on past production sets, Nickelodeon said, “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.”

The statement continued, “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.”

Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV is currently streaming on Max.

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