A former “Charles in Charge” actor went public for the first time Wednesday with allegations of abuse and “mental torture” he allegedly suffered at the hands of star Scott Baio during the show’s run.
Baio, however, strongly denied the accusations, saying in a statement he was dumbfounded by the “lies” being told about him and vowing to fight back.
At a news conference at the Woodland Hills office of attorney Lisa Bloom, former child actor Alexander Polinsky said he was sexually harassed and physically assaulted by Baio beginning when he 11 or 12 years old and continuing until he was 15 while appearing on “Charles in Charge.”
Polinsky is the second performer from the show to come forward with misconduct allegations against Baio. Nicole Eggert, who is also represented by Bloom, has accused Baio of sexual misconduct beginning when she was as young as 14.
Polinsky, 43, told a packed room of reporters that getting the job on “Charles in Charge” was “one of the most wonderful things that had ever happened to me … but my excitement did not last long.”
“During the first year of the show, I was 11 or 12, I observed Scott with our co-star Nicole (Eggert) on his lap backstage. I was so naive I innocently hopped on his lap, expecting to hear a story about Fonzie or `Happy Days.’ … Scott Baio was a hero to me. I was 11 years old. Instead of telling us a story, Scott immediately threw me off him and began angrily calling me `faggot’ while Nicole laughed.
“I felt confusion, shame and then fear when I realized I had judged the situation wrong, and it was not innocent, it was sexual in nature,” Polinsky said. “Scott Baio began a pattern of abuse that was unrelenting. Mr. Baio repeatedly told me about gay sex acts that he told me I would grow up to perform. I would protest and ask him to stop saying these things, but he said it was for my own good.”
Polinsky said Baio would brag to him about his sexual conquests “with young girls and co-stars of the show” while also describing Polinsky as “unlovable, defective and branding me with the most vulgar words for homosexuals that exist.”
He said Baio pulled down his pants in front of about 100 people on the set, and on another occasion Baio cut a hole in a canvas wall of a dressing room “and exposed his genitals to me.”
“One of the most painful memories of my childhood was when Scott and I were backstage waiting to enter the set for a scene. 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. I believed I was being subjected to mental torture and retaliation for what I had seen.”
Polinsky said adults on the show were aware of what was happening, “but were too scared of losing a job on a hit show to act.”
Hours later, Baio’s publicist and civil attorney held a news conference in Century City to refute the allegations and accuse Polinsky, Eggert and Bloom of orchestrating an unfounded media campaign aimed at damaging the actor’s reputation for the sake of publicity.
Publicist Brian Glicklich read a statement from Baio, saying, “For reasons I don’t understand, I’m the target of false claims that threaten everything that is important in my life. I’m hurt and I’m angry, but mostly I am stunned that anyone could be so cruel as to attack not just me but my entire family with lies. I will not let this continue unchallenged. I will use every ounce of strength and faith in God that I have to defeat the people behind this. This story is just beginning to be told.”
Baio’s civil attorney, Jennifer McGrath, said Polinsky made “multiple inconsistent statements, and just like Eggert, Mr. Polinsky makes his ever- changing claims in front of cameras instead of to law enforcement, and he does so supported by his attorney, Lisa Bloom, who many of you know recently defended Harvey Weinstein.”
“Mr. Polinsky claims that he told people of the abuse he suffered and that hundreds of people saw dozens of acts of abuse directed against a child, yet not one person has ever reported any of these acts, despite the presence of parents, teachers and over 100 crew members and others,” McGrath said.
McGrath also displayed photos of a smiling Polinsky with Baio — pictures she said were taken about seven years ago at Baio’s birthday party — countering Polinsky’s claim that he was “unready or unwilling” to speak to Baio on the phone about a decade ago.
“While we would have preferred to present our evidence privately to authorities, Eggert and Polinsky’s continual hunger for publicity compels us to advise that we also have multiple statements from witnesses that not only completely discredit Miss Eggert’s claims but paint them in an entirely different light. We have reason to believe that there are many more individuals who have evidence of Polinsky and Eggert’s behavior from the 1980s to the present and we urge them to come forward.”
She added: “When this police investigation concludes and Scott is totally cleared of any wrongdoing, he will pursue any and all legal options available to him as to anyone who has knowingly made false claims about him.”
Last week, Eggert, 46, met with Los Angeles police detectives to file a report claiming she was sexually abused by Baio.
Baio, 57, has conceded that he had sexual intercourse with Eggert, but not until she was 18 years old. He said the encounter was consensual, saying Eggert seduced him.
“Charles in Charge” aired for five seasons. Eggert and Polinsky both appeared on the show from 1987-90.
–City News Service
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