Nicole Eggert on Relationship With Scott Baio: "He Knew It Was Illegal"
After filming Eggert weeks ago and proceeding to investigate both sides, 'The Dr. Oz Show' aired its interview with the former 'Charles in Charge' star, 46, who has accused Baio, 57, of sexually abusing her when she was a minor.
The Dr. Oz Show on Wednesday aired its much-discussed interview with Nicole Eggert, ultimately deciding to go ahead with the segment once she brought her claims, and Scott Baio brought his response, to a public forum.
The show had initially taped an interview between Eggert and host Mehmet Oz on Jan. 10. A spokesman tells The Hollywood Reporter they were still in the process of vetting Eggert's claims when she and her former Charles in Charge co-star Baio took the conversation to social media over the weekend. In a series of tweets, Eggert alleged that Baio molested her when she was a minor, while co-starring on the show, and Baio denied her claims in a 16-minute Facebook Live video.
Baio's wife, Renee, responded to the Twitter thread by saying Dr. Oz "killed" Eggert's interview that was going to air on his show, and Eggert was asked about the segment when she appeared on Monday's Megyn Kelly Today. "Some people believe that his denial was basis enough to not air your allegations," Kelly said of The Dr. Oz Show's decision.
"After doing the interview, we needed more time to corroborate the allegations," a show spokesperson now tells THR. "We have strict standards for vetting and investigating stories. Corroborating allegations that happened 30 years ago takes time. But then, over the weekend, a Twitter and Facebook war erupted and both parties spoke out freely and public, taking matters into their own hands. So we decided to proceed with our show."
Indeed, after Eggert's visit on the NBC morning show, Baio went on ABC's Good Morning America on Tuesday to deny her claims. During her Megyn Kelly appearance, Eggert had alleged that Baio sexually abused her "probably once a week" when she was between the ages of 14 and 16, and that she lost her virginity to him at 17, which is one year shy of California's age of consent. Baio, who is 11 years older, maintained that Eggert was 18 when they had sex, and denied the rest of her claims. He said they were never alone on set, but when asked about the time they spent off the set, namely the first encounter that Eggert says happened in his garage, Baio responded with a laugh, "I have no idea what that means."
When the Dr. Oz Show decided to air Eggert's segment, they brought her back to the set this week to film more of the interview, which ran in full on Wednesday's episode. "After both parties went public, I felt the time was right to release my interview with Nicole Eggert," Oz explained at the top of the hour.
During their sit-down, Eggert revealed new details about the alleged garage encounter, during which she says Baio penetrated her with his finger when she was 14.
"We were at his house," she says. "This happened a lot. He had a pool, I didn't. Sometimes we would hang out at the pool and have hangout sessions at his house; he lived alone. We were in his car — he was going to take me home — in the garage and all the lights went out. It was completely dark and he reached over and started touching me. Touching me below the belt, in the female parts."
Eggert described Baio as a "power figure" on set and said he "conditioned" her by earning her trust through a "manipulation process."
"It was strange and it was in a weird way okay — or I thought it was okay," she says. "I didn't tell anybody at all. He also had conversations with me being very clear that nobody could know, and that it was illegal, and that everybody could lose their job, including myself. It would just open this horrible can of worms, and I didn't want that, either."
Eggert and Baio have each shared different accounts of the first time they had sex. Baio said Eggert came over to his house after Charles in Charge was done, making her at least 18, and that she "seduced" him. Eggert, however, told Kelly that he initiated it and that the act took place in the spare bedroom of her house while the family sitcom was still filming. "I have no doubt in my mind," she said about being under 18. "In fact, he didn't treat me well after on set — he was quite mean to me after."
Eggert explained the experience further to Oz: "When I turned 17 years old, I wanted to be around boys my own age, go out and have a social life. I made that very clear and [Baio] sort of manipulated me in the way of, 'Let me get you ready for boys your own age.' And I agreed to that. It was awkward, to say the least."
She told Oz that Baio came to her house when her parents weren't home. "[The conversation we had] was about how much he loved me and that, hopefully, one day when I was of age, we could be together and that he understood I needed to go be with boys my own age," Eggert said. "It was sort of a goodbye."
Eggert admits that she knew it was wrong, but she reminded Oz that she was also a teenager.
"I most definitely think it was abuse," she says. "I think that no matter if his feelings were genuine or not as far as loving me, he should have known better. He knew it was illegal. As an adult, you choose not to go down that path. You don't do that. It's definitely being preyed upon, because you don't know any better and you're so impressionable and vulnerable and learning and experiencing things for the first time in your life."
During Baio's Facebook Live denial, he challenged Eggert's claims by citing past articles that she had given that don't match up with her recent interviews. The actress explained that away on Megyn Kelly Today, saying she lied to "cover up" her shame and also to protect the show's "legacy."
Oz confirmed that attorneys on both sides were involved in the vetting process. Still, the intent of airing the interview was to let viewers make up their own minds.
In a statement given to Oz's show, Baio's representative said: "Nicole Eggert was well past the age of 18 when she came to Scott Baio looking for a sexual experience. Given this, her other vague claims, which Scott has consistently denied, cannot have any merit."
On Tuesday, when speaking to Kelly, Eggert said she was considering filing a police report. Her attorney, Lisa Bloom, echoed that legal options were on the table due to the statute of limitations in California for when sexual abuse occurs under age 18. When reached by THR on Wednesday, Bloom had no further comment.