‘Boy Meets World’ Stars Rider Strong, Will Friedle Say They Were Groomed by Fellow Actor

CARSON, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 04: (L-R) Will Friedle and Rider Strong attend the 2022 iHeartRa
David Livingston/FilmMagic

ABC’s Boy Meets World stars Rider Strong and Will Friedle claim they were groomed by fellow actor Brian Peck when he guest starred on the hit series.

Strong and Friedle recalled their experience with Peck, who played Cowboy #2 in two episodes of Boy Meets World, during a conversation with family therapist Kati Morton on Monday’s episode of the iHeart podcast, Pod Meets World.

The actors said they hadn’t realized what was happening at the time, but that the situation is now clearer in hindsight.

“I didn’t go to parties, I didn’t really do that stuff,” Friedle, who played Eric Matthews on the show, said. “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.”

“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 [him].” the actor added. “I saw him every day, hung out with him every day, talked to him every day.”

Peck was convicted of sexually abusing an unnamed Nickelodeon child actor in 2004, just four years after the final episode of Boy Meets World aired. He spent 16 months in prison.

Friedle went on to explain that when this happened, Peck changed the narrative, claiming that he himself was the victim in the situation.

“To look back at that and then him telling me what happened, and then instantly spinning it to where it wasn’t his fault, it was clearly the fault of his victim, my initial instinct, because of the year’s I had been with him, was like, ‘Well, yeah, of course. It can’t be you,'” Friedle said.

“And I look back at that now as an adult, and it makes me want to cry that I ever was that naive,” he added.

Friedle, who was around 17 when Boy Meets World started and 24 when the show ended, also said, “One of the reasons I’m struggling so much with this and it’s been bothering me for so long, is because I wasn’t 15. I was, like, 19.”

“And because I had been an actor for so long, because I had been living by myself, I want to look back and think that I was worldly and there’s no way that I could have been taken advantage of at that age and there’s no way that I could be manipulated like this, because I was an adult,” he said. “And that’s one of the things that’s really sticking with me more than anything else.”

Boy Meets World co-star Danielle Fishel, who played Topanga Lawrence on the series, also noted that Peck, unlike most guest stars on the show, wanted to spend as much time as he could with the main cast.

Fishel also blamed “the other adults on set, who maybe could have or should have said, ‘Why are you guys going to lunch with this guy?’ ‘Why is this guy going to Rider’s house for a party?'”

Strong, who played Shawn Hunter on the ABC series, also recalled “hanging out” with “older men, as if they were peers.”

“That was something that happened often, and I remember my parents being kind of upset about one of them, being like, ‘Why are you hanging out with this guy? He’s in his 40’s,’ and I remember saying to my dad, ‘Well, that person’s kind of like a permanent kid,'” he said.

“I can think of three men in my life that I was friends with who were sort of child-like” Strong continued. “They were stunted, and they were aware of that and would talk about themselves, like, ‘I’m kind of a permanent teenager,’ and we, as teenagers who wanted to be older would be like, ‘Well, that makes them a cool person — because they’re like us, except they can buy alcohol.'”

Strong added that there was a feeling of “meeting each other halfway,” given that he felt older and more independent than others around his age due to being an actor on a hit television show.

“And that is truly disturbing to recognize now,” he said.

In 2003, Peck reached out to Strong and Friedle when he was accused of child sexual abuse, asking them to support him in court. The actors did, but said they now regret getting involved.

“There’s an actual victim here, and he turned us against the victim to where now we’re on his team,” Friedle said. “That’s the thing where, to me, I look back at that as my ever-loving shame for this entire [thing].”

“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,” he added. “It’s awful.”

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and X/Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.


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