Drake Bell accusers face online attacks

Supporters of former Nickelodeon star Drake Bell have rallied behind him after he came forward with his child sexual abuse story in an explosive docuseries. But some people have gone to extremes, harassing women who previously shared their own abuse allegations against Bell, who pleaded guilty to attempted child endangerment in 2021.

In the wake of “Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV,” dozens of TikTok videos have been published discussing the child endangerment case, casting doubt on his alleged victims’ claims of abuse against Bell. Some have received millions of views. Some commenters under these videos called the victim in the case a liar, comparing her to the actor Amber Heard (who was similarly attacked online for her claims of abuse) and speculating that she was hired by Bell’s convicted abuser Brian Peck to destroy him. Peck didn’t respond to a request for comment. 

Melissa Lingafelt, Bell’s ex-partner who separately accused the actor in 2020 of physical and emotional abuse, which he denied, shared on her Instagram Stories last week that she had received harassment from his fans after the docuseries debuted. A representative for Bell declined to comment.

The attacks on Bell’s accusers fit into a larger pattern of social media being used to harass, demean and discredit female victims of sexual violence and abuse. In Bell’s case, experts who study gender and psychology said that onlookers often struggle to recognize that a perpetrator can also have been a victim, even though perpetrators have often been victimized in the past. 

“In our culture, we just want people to be good or evil,” said Carine Mardorossian, a University at Buffalo professor who authored “Framing the Rape Victim: Gender and Agency Reconsidered.” She said that in the search for the “good” or “bad” person in a nuanced scenario, oftentimes, “more harm than good” is done.

“Quiet on Set” has ushered in a tsunami of online reactions over the treatment of child stars, writers and crew on Nickelodeon sets. The docuseries focused on the toxic environment that producer Dan Schneider allegedly fostered on his hit Nick shows.

“Facing my past behaviors — some of which are embarrassing and that I regret — and I definitely owe some people a pretty strong apology,” Schneider recently said in a YouTube video responding to the docuseries.

Dan Schneider on Sept. 10, 2015 in New York.
Dan Schneider on Sept. 10, 2015, in New York.Eric Vitale / Getty Images file

In a statement previously shared with NBC News, a Nickelodeon spokesperson 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. 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.”

The internet particularly seized on the allegations of child sexual abuse that Bell made against Nickelodeon dialogue coach Peck. Peck pleaded no contest to lewd and lascivious acts with a 14- or 15-year-old child and oral copulation with a minor under 16 in 2004. He was sentenced to 16 months in prison. The minor in the case, who was previously identified as John Doe, is revealed to be Bell in the docuseries. Peck has not responded to multiple requests for comment from NBC News.

Following the docuseries’ release, some people have responded to Bell’s experience by defending him against women who have accused him of sexual misconduct in the past. 

TikToks with as many as 8.4 million views claim that Bell was falsely accused during his 2021 court case. The viral videos show court footage of the anonymous female victim and some even include her name. TikTok recommends suggested search terms at the bottom of many videos, and at least one of the recommended search terms about Bell’s 2021 sentencing included the victim’s real first name. Most of the court documents were sealed to protect her privacy. After NBC News reached out, TikTok said it removed the search suggestion with the woman’s real first name for violating its community guidelines.

“As a society we want to hold people accountable for the abuse of children as we should,” Elizabeth L. Jeglic, professor of psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said in an email. “It is hard sometimes to see the duality that hurt people can hurt people. However both can be true — someone can have experienced childhood sexual abuse and they can also engage in abusive behaviors themselves.”

Bell pleaded guilty to felony attempted child endangerment and a misdemeanor charge of disseminating harmful material to a juvenile in 2021. He was sentenced to two years of probation. The victim, then a 15-year-old girl from Canada, shared an impact statement during Bell’s sentencing hearing that year alleging that Bell had groomed, sexually assaulted and sent sexually explicit messages to her when she was a minor. Bell has denied these claims. 

The victim filed a report at her home police department describing an incident between her and Bell in Cleveland in December 2017, according to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office.

After investigating, Cleveland police determined that the teen had “established a relationship with Bell several years prior [and] attended his concert in December 2017.”

“While there, Bell violated his duty of care and, in doing so, created a risk of harm to the victim,” the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office said. Investigators also said that Bell sent the teen “inappropriate social media messages.”

Bell’s defense attorney said during the sentencing hearing that the messages had included “discussion because they had known each other for years and there were claims that became sexual in nature.” 

When Bell and the victim discussed her age, his defense attorney said, “At that point, he said ‘Can you hurry up?’ which shows a complete intent not to engage with a minor.” 

“He pled to attempt to endangering children and disseminating matter harmful to juveniles,” Judge Timothy McCormick said during the hearing. “These are serious allegations but they do not involve sexual relations. However, a grown man does not engage in inappropriate text messages to a teenager. There’s a reason a 14 or 15-year old does not have the right to drive, does not have the right to vote, does not have the right to serve in the armed forces. They don’t have the emotional or mental maturity to properly gauge their conduct, so you did take advantage in that regard [of] somebody who could not appreciate the consequences of the relationship.”

In a TikTok with more than 600,000 views, a creator said Bell didn’t sexually assault any minors and claimed that it was “proven in court” that the anonymous woman in the 2021 case “lied about her age” and stalked Bell. These allegations didn’t come up during Bell’s sentencing hearing, which was recorded and made public. Bell’s defense attorney said that Bell “may not have known” the victim’s real age at the start of their relationship but “he did learn of the age at a later time.” The TikTok echoed some of the talking points from Bell’s statement on the case on Instagram in 2021. Bell said in the statement that he was unaware of the victim’s age when he was in contact with her. 

Commenters under the video began bringing up Bell’s ex-partner Lingafelt’s accusations of abuse against him, seemingly to indicate a pattern of behavior. Bell responded to one person discussing allegations from his own TikTok account, saying, “Never went to court for this. This was a complete lie. This never went anywhere.” 

In August 2020, Lingafelt came forward with emotional and physical abuse allegations against Bell that she shared in a TikTok, which has since been deleted. Lingafelt, a music artist who goes by the stage name Jimi Ono, and Bell dated from 2006 to 2009 beginning when she was 16 and he was 20. She told the Daily Beast that Bell physically assaulted her on multiple occasions, including dragging her down stairs and hitting her face on the steps and attempting to restrain her in a bathtub to burn her with scalding hot water.

Bell previously denied Lingafelt’s allegations. She didn’t respond to a request for comment sent from NBC News. 

In late March, Lingafelt shared a screenshot of a direct message she received on Instagram from someone who watched “Quiet on Set.” The sender, who appeared to be a woman, called Lingafelt sexist names and suggested she perform a sexual act on Nickelodeon producer Schneider. (Although internet users condemned Schneider, Bell acknowledged him in the series as the “only person” at Nickelodeon who supported him through his experience with Peck.)

Brian Peck
Brian Peck on March 29, 2014, in Los Angeles.Albert L. Ortega / Getty Images file

“I know you’re still active. I remember your post from 2020 about Drake. You should be absolutely, utterly, and disgracefully disgusted with yourself,” the message to Lingafelt said. “You’re disgusting, and I hope you know people will rally on his side. You can’t use him for your 7 seconds anymore.”

Lingafelt shared a statement on Instagram in response: “Sharing one’s personal experiences of abuse can be a complex and challenging process, and it can potentially help raise awareness about the prevalence of abuse and the need for support and healing. However, it’s crucial to remember that speaking out about one’s own experiences does not automatically absolve someone of the responsibility for their harmful behavior towards others.” 

Jeglic said that people often have strong negative reactions to stories of child sexual abuse stemming from “tremendous empathy and sympathy for survivors.” As a result, people struggle to accept “an abused person, especially someone who was abused as a child, as also being capable of perpetrating abuse.”

Jeglic noted that most survivors of child sexual abuse do not go on to abuse others. 

“However, when we look at those who perpetrate sexual violence they disproportionately have histories of sexual abuse,” she said. “While we do not know exactly what causes someone to sexually abuse others, it is generally believed that there is not a single cause — but rather multiple causes.”

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673. The hotline, run by the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN), can put you in contact with your local rape crisis center. You can also access RAINN’s online chat service at

If you or someone you know is facing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence hotline for help at (800) 799-SAFE (7233), or go to for more. States often have domestic violence hotlines as well.

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