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Nicole Eggert has given her first TV interview about her sexual misconduct claims against her Charles in Charge co-star Scott Baio, explaining why she “covered up” the alleged behavior for years.
Speaking on Megyn Kelly Today on Tuesday, the actress, 46, spoke about claims she first made on Twitter over the weekend, where she alleged that Baio, 57, molested her starting from when she was 14.
Eggert took NBC News host Megyn Kelly back to when the family sitcom, which ran for four years in syndication, began in September of 1986 when Eggert was 14. She said Baio — who played the title character, a college student who cared for a household of children, including one played by Eggert — “immediately” befriended her and earned her trust.
“Then he started expressing his love for me and talking about marriage in the future,” said Eggert. “Before my 15th birthday, we were at his house — in his car in his garage — and he reached over and he penetrated me with his finger and that is when the sexual touching and abuse started, after that.”
She continued, “I was very young and it was shocking. I had never experienced anything like that before, either. So he was playing on not only my emotions but my hormones. The issue with him is that he was our boss. He also was telling me, ‘You can’t tell anybody, this is illegal, I’ll go to jail. The show will be over. Everybody will be sued. You’ll be out of a job. You’ll ruin everybody’s life.’ It’s scary. That’s intimidating, especially when you’re that young.”
She told Kelly that the alleged molestation happened “quite often” from when she was 14 through 16, often at Baio’s house. “More than 10 times,” she said. “More like, probably once a week.”
On set, she said there was a lot of “groping, a lot of fondling, a lot of pulling me on his lap, trying to sneak kisses on the back,” she says of behavior other castmembers witnessed.
She told Kelly that the first time she and Baio had sex was when she was 17. Eggert and Baio dated briefly in the 1980s and she has previously said she lost her virginity to Baio at age 17; the age of consent in California is 18.
“It wasn’t until getting a little bit older that I started to realize, this was not love,” she said. “Everybody knew the attention he gave me.”
Eggert’s appearance comes after similar claims made in a series of tweets Saturday. In one post that has since been deleted, the Baywatch star alleged she was molested by Baio at ages “14,15,16 and 17.”
Baio addressed Eggert’s claims in a 16-minute Facebook Live video, recorded by his wife, Renee, and a Facebook post, saying his intent was to “prove her claims are 100 percent lies.” He said that in 2012 and 2013, Eggert first made claims against him when she was promoting reality shows and Baio opted not to respond. He produced two letters from his attorneys, dated last year, to Eggert and Charles in Charge co-star Alexander Polinsky, who Baio claims, “decided to team up against” him, telling them both to go to the police if they had legitimate claims.
Baio said he and Eggert did have sex, but claims it was consensual after the show ended, when Eggert, he says, was at least 18: “I remember her calling me and asking to come over and coming in my house one time and seducing me. Now, any normal heterosexual, red-blooded American guy, the outcome would have been the same.”
Kelly reiterated on her Tuesday show that Baio denies Eggert’s claims. She also extended an invitation for him to give his defense live.
Of Baio’s response, Eggert, now inspired by the #MeToo movement, said she covered up what had happened in previous interviews to protect the “legacy” of the show. “I got really good at putting it in a box and saying, ‘That’s not me. That didn’t happen to me,'” she said.
“I was always protecting the show. That was my delusion and that was my cover-up. I always lied about it,” she said. “Shame plays such a weird part and such a strong voice. I didn’t want anybody to look at me like I was weak. I didn’t want anybody to look at me and say, ‘Oh, victim.'”
Eggert, who was joined by Hollywood attorney Lisa Bloom, said she is now considering filing a police report. Bloom added that at this point, all legal options are on the table.
Kelly also said she reached out to Polinsky, who said he stands by his now-deleted tweet that read: “For 30 years I’ve held in the embarrassment and shame of being abused daily on the set of Charles in Charge. I had to watch other children be abused as well.” Polinsky told Kelly he was not referring to sexual abuse at the hands of Baio, but that in regard to Eggert’s claims, he said he witnessed “inappropriate cuddling” between the pair on set.
Eggert has spoken with Polinsky, as well as other castmembers, about their experiences on the show. Writer Adam Carl has since tweeted to Eggert, “When I worked on Charles in Charge in ’88, I sat with you while you cried about that abusive asshole. I know you’re telling the truth and I’m so glad to see you speaking out.”
In response to Polinsky, Baio’s lawyer said in a statement, “These false claims are part of a regular pattern of making and then deleting outrageous and untrue statements.”
Eggert claims Polinsky deleted his tweet because he was “bullied” by Baio and his lawyers. Eggert said she deleted some of her tweets because she wanted her first tweet to stand on its own. “Once you start getting into a Twitter war it just gets messy and ugly,” she said. “It’s not my favorite social platform to begin with, it’s a really nasty place to be.”
Kelly also brought up a shelved segment Eggert had taped for The Dr. Oz Show, which Baio addressed in his Facebook Live video by producing legal letters he had sent to the show in response to her claims.
“Some people believe that his denial was basis enough to not air your allegations,” Kelly explained. “What we’re trying to do is give you the opportunity to tell your story while giving Scott Baio his proper defense and letting the audience make up their minds.”
Watch Eggert’s appearance on Megyn Kelly Today, below.