UPDATE: Scott Baio’s representatives, but not the actor himself, appeared at a press conference Wednesday afternoon to say he’s the victim of “a media witch hunt” and to deny allegations by two “Charles in Charge” co-stars who say he engaged in a range of sexually inappropriate and harassing and bullying behavior on the set of the 1980s sitcom.
Spokesperson Brian Glicklich and legal representative Jennifer McGrath opened the press conference, streamed live on Facebook, by reading a statement from Baio. They said he couldn’t be present because his young daughter is just recovering from a severe flu.
Baio’s statement began: “For reasons I don’t understand I am the victim of false claims that threaten everything precious in my life … Mostly, I’m stunned … I will not let this continue … I will use every ounce of strength I have to fight this.”
The press conference by Baio’s representatives comes after one earlier Wednesday by former “Charles in Charge” co-star Alexander Polinsky, who was joined by Nicole Eggert, Baio’s original accuser, and their attorney Lisa Bloom.
At his press conference at Bloom’s office, Polinsky elaborated on claims he had already made that Baio subjected him to “mental abuse” and homophobic slurs during the show’s run.
“I was sexually harassed by Scott Baio and ultimately assaulted by him between the ages of 12 and 15 years old,” Polinsky said, according to E! News. “Getting the job on ‘Charles in Charge’ when I was 11 was one of the most wonderful things that had ever happened to me. … My excitement did not last long.”
Polinsky alleged he was subject to “unrelenting” abuse by Baio because he had witnessed Baio behave inappropriately with Eggert. He told reporters that Baio repeatedly told him about gay sex acts and boasted of his sexual conquests with young girls and female co-stars. He furthermore said that Baio tried to humiliate him by pulling down his pants in front of more than 100 people and that Baio cut a hole in the canvas wall of his dressing room to expose his genitals.
“One of the most painful memories of my childhood was when Scott and I were backstage waiting to enter the set for a scene,” Polinksy told reporters, according to E! News and the Hollywood Reporter. “I faked a basketball to him. He got startled and in anger, he assaulted me by throwing a burning hot cup of tea in my face.”
Polinksy and Eggert played a brother and sister on the show, and Baio played a college student who served as their nanny. The show ran from 1984 to 1990, when Polinsky and Eggert were minors, and Baio was in his 20s.
Baio already was a star, becoming a teen heartthrob playing Chachi Arcola on sitcoms “Happy Days” and “Joanie Loves Chachi” from 1977 to 1984.
Last month, Eggert, 46, first publicly ccused Baio, 57, of sexually abusing her during the show’s run. She also took her allegations to police last week. On social media and in an interview with Megyn Kelly, Eggert said the abuse started when she was 14 when she was visiting his home and he digitally penetrated her.
She also alleged the abuse continued over the next few years, and said that the actor had intercourse with her when she was 17.
Baio’s representatives on Wednesday re-iteriated the actor’s vehement denials of sexually abusing Eggert.
“Scott denies every single claim of inappropriate behavior and if you examine the claims made they can be refuted with evidence,” said spokesman Brian Glicklich. “Frankly if we go through all the individual accusations, we’ll be here all afternoon. Scott denies all of them.”
In an interview with “Good Morning America” and in a 16-minute Facebook post, Baio acknowledged having a sexual encounter with Eggert but said it happened after the show’s run was over and Eggert was older than 18 years old. He added that she initiated the encounter because she wanted to lose her virginity.
Polinsky has tried to back up Eggert’s claims of abuse. During an appearance on The Talk last week, Polinksy, 43, read a statement in which he described walking in on Eggert sitting on Baio’s lap behind the show’s set.
In his statement, he also said that during their time on the show, he suffered regular “mental abuse” and “physical assault at the hands of Scott Baio.”
Baio had no immediate comment about Polinksy’s latest accusations Wednesday. But in a tweet, he referred to Polinsky’ press conference with Eggert as a “horse and pony show.”
In his tweet, he added his view that the matter is best left to police and other authorities to handle, and announced that he would be holding a press conference at 2 p.m. Wednesday. The press conference will be streamed live on Facebook, he said.
I’ve tried my best to let the proper authorities handle this matter. It now seems they want a “horse & pony” show. pic.twitter.com/hWJD4GFkXI
— Scott Baio (@ScottBaio) February 14, 2018
During the Eggert and Polinsky press conference, attorney Bloom said that Polinksy and at least 10 others on the “Charles in Charge” set had witnessed Baio’s alleged sexually inappropriate treatment of Eggert, according to the Hollywood Reporter said.
Bloom told reporters her clients want an apology from Baio, adding that any criminal consequences will be up to authorities. When reporters asked Baio’s representatives if he would apologize, Glicklich said, “You can’t apologize for something that’s not true.”
Bloom added that child abuse takes many forms. “For little boys, child abuse can often mean homophobic slurs,” she said, according to the Hollywood Reporter. “Child abuse hurts, it deforms, it teaches children they are trash. Today is about rejecting all of that and it’s about standing up against child abuse.”