Former child actor Alexander Polinsky, who played Adam Powell on the 1980s sitcom Charles in Charge, is accusing co-star Scott Baio of sexual harassment, physical assault, and verbal bullying that included the frequent use of homophobic slurs.
According to a report from E! News, the allegations were made on Wednesday, as Polinsky held a press conference alongside his fellow Charles in Charge co-star, Nicole Eggert, and her lawyer, Lisa Bloom. In a statement, the 43-year-old Polinsky related the ordeal he allegedly went through as a young actor, describing how happy he was at first to be chosen to star in a popular sitcom, only to find himself repeatedly abused by Baio, a man whom he says he once idolized.
“I was sexually harassed by Scott Baio and ultimately assaulted by him between the ages of 12 and 15 years old,” said Polinsky.
“Getting the job on Charles in Charge when I was 11 was one of the most wonderful things that had ever happened to me. It represented everything good about my life and my future. My excitement did not last long.”
Alexander Polinsky recalled a moment on the set of Charles in Charge, when he was a “naive” 11- or 12-year-old, that he claims started the “pattern of abuse” at Baio’s hands. Noticing that Eggert was sitting on Baio’s lap, Polinsky did the same, thinking that Baio would oblige him and tell him some stories about the time he starred in the 1970s and 1980s sitcom, Happy Days. Instead, Scott allegedly got angry, and responded by throwing Alexander off his lap and calling him a “f****t.”
Commenting on the purported incident, Eggert said at the press conference that she feels remorse for not backing up her younger co-star, who, according to Deadline, was allegedly abused by Baio for the entirety of Charles in Charge’s run. Both E! News and Deadline quoted Polinsky as saying that much of the supposed abuse was homophobic in nature, as Scott perceived Alexander as being effeminate, and used such abusive language because it was for “his own good.”
“Scott told me of his sexual conquests with young girls and the co-stars of the show. At the same time, [he] tried to convince me that I was unlovable, defective, and branding me with the most vulgar words for homosexuals that exist.”
As Alexander Polinsky further claimed, Scott Baio’s abuse on the set of Charles in Charge went beyond verbal insults. These alleged acts included pulling down the young actor’s pants “in front of over 100 people,” exposing his genitals to him through a hole he cut in his dressing room wall, and in what Polinsky described as one of his most painful childhood memories, throwing a hot cup of tea in his face upon being startled by a fake basketball pass.
Speaking to reporters at the press conference, Nicole Eggert backed Polinsky’s statements, and suggested that he was subjected to such alleged verbal, mental, and physical abuse because he had seen her in what looked to be a compromising position with Baio.
“Alex was consistently picked on, tripped, pushed around, berated with horrendous, horrendous homosexual slurs, all because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and witnessed something he was not supposed to see.”
According to Deadline, Polinsky stated that he decided to come forward with the allegations not because he is looking for “fame, money, or revenge,” but rather for the sake of healing, and so he could raise awareness of the need to keep young actors, models, and athletes safe from potential abuse. He added that he is seeking a public apology from Baio, who reportedly tried to apologize about a decade ago, only for Polinsky to reject it, as he still wasn’t ready to hear it at that time.
Hours after the press conference, Scott Baio issued a statement through his spokesman and lawyer, denying the accusations from both Alexander Polinsky and Nicole Eggert, and promising that he will “use every ounce of strength” he has to contest the allegations.
“This is not a dog-and-pony show, this is an honest attempt to impact in the media,” said Baio’s lawyer, Jennifer McGrath, as quoted by USA Today.
“Mr. Baio’s reputation is being harmed in the community. This is devastating to him. Mr. Polinsky’s claims are devastating to him.”