Drake Bell Came Forward as a Survivor, and Now His Alleged Victims Are Under Attack

Bell revealed his experiences surviving child sexual abuse at Nickelodeon in the Quiet on Set docuseries. Now, women who have previously accused Bell of abuse—while they were also underage—are being harassed online.

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Drake Bell Came Forward as a Survivor, and Now His Alleged Victims Are Under Attack

The docuseries Quiet on Set, which aired on Investigation Discovery last week, unearthed numerous disturbing allegations of exploitation, misogyny, and even child sexual abuse at Nickelodeon during the 2000s under the oversight of producer Dan Schneider. One of the victims was Drake Bell, the former star of Drake and Josh, who was revealed to be the previously unnamed child victim of dialogue coach and convicted child abuser Brian Peck. In 2004, Peck pleaded no contest to lewd and lascivious acts with a 14- or 15-year-old child, as well as oral copulation with a minor under 16. Peck was sentenced to 16 months in prison.

The four-part series also includes allegations of lewd acts involving children that were enabled by Schneider himself, but Bell’s story has by and large received the most public attention and sympathy. And, as NBC reported, this outpouring of support is being weaponized against women who have previously accused Bell of abuse when they were underage and he was an adult.

In 2021, Bell pleaded guilty to felony attempted child endangerment and disseminating harmful material to a juvenile, resulting in a two-year probation sentence. His victim was an unnamed Canadian teenager who alleged that Bell groomed, sexually assaulted, and sent her sexual messages when she was 15. (Bell has denied these allegations.) Cleveland police determined the girl had “established a relationship with Bell several years prior [and] attended his concert in December 2017.”

Before that, in 2020, Bell’s ex Melissa Lingafelt accused Bell of physical and emotional abuse in a since-deleted TikTok. Lingafelt dated Bell from 2006 to 2009, beginning when she was 16 and he was 20. In an interview with The Daily Beast in 2021, she said that Bell assaulted her repeatedly and once dragged her down the stairs, and on a different occasion attempted to restrain and force her to bathe in dangerously hot water. 

This week, Lingafelt shared a screenshot of a DM she received from an account supporting Bell: “I know you’re still active. I remember your post from 2020 about Drake. You should be absolutely, utterly, and disgracefully disgusted with yourself. You’re disgusting, and I hope you know people will rally on his side. You can’t use him for your 7 seconds anymore.” 

NBC found numerous viral TikTok videos attempting to “debunk” the allegations against Bell, promoting conspiracy theories that the women accusing him were hired by Peck to retaliate for accusing Peck of abuse. Comments under these videos compare the women who have accused Bell to Amber Heard, who was famously, viciously harassed online and portrayed as her ex Johnny Depp’s abuser after she accused him of abuse. Other comments include alarmingly sexist, harassing language about the women. Some of these conspiracy theory TikToks include the real name of the victim who was a minor. 

Shortly after the release of Quiet on Set, Bell dropped the music video for his song “I Kind of Relate.” The video recreates varying moments from Bell’s life and concludes with a thumbnail photo of a YouTube video titled “Matt Wallace EXPOSES FAKE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST DRAKE BELL!” That video is rife with misinformation about the women accusing him. Journalist Steven Asarch also reported that Bell has also sent the video to people questioning his version of events. The account called Rich Clarkophile, whose Twitter thread about the allegations against Bell went viral, said that Bell later sent him a link to the Matt Wallace video with the message, “Witnesses…” 

“I think Drake sent me that video to make me doubt his victim,” Clarkophile told Asarch. “I think he also wanted to intimidate me by letting me know that he’s seen my posts about him.”

As NBC’s Kat Tenbarge noted, the attacks against the women who have accused Bell of abuse reflect common trends around how the internet and society treat male and female victims: Both face harassment and retaliation for coming forward. But male victims like Bell who then recreate and perpetuate a cycle of abuse are often “excused and defended,” with their own victims subjected to harassment and smear campaigns. Several experts on gender and psychology spoke to NBC about how the general public struggles to grapple with the idea that people who have been victimized can become perpetrators themselves. “In our culture, we just want people to be good or evil,” Carine Mardorossian, a University at Buffalo professor and author of Framing the Rape Victim: Gender and Agency Reconsidered, said. 

Since Quiet on the Set aired, Bell has received a significant amount of press and continues to give interviews about being abused by Peck. But acknowledging and creating space for Bell’s trauma can’t come at the cost of the women whom he has harmed. Everyone, including people who have been victimized themselves, should be held accountable. 

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