Alexander Polinsky, the former child actor who co-starred with Scott Baio and Nicole Eggert on ’80s sitcom Charles in Charge, called Baio a “tyrant” who relentlessly bullied Polinsky with homophobic taunts, pulled the younger actor’s pants down in front of the crew, and even threw a cup of hot tea in the boy’s face after being startled by a faked basketball toss.
“I dreaded the teasing and daily attacks on my personality,” Polinsky said during a press conference today at the Woodland Hills office of attorney Lisa Bloom, who is representing Eggert in her claims Baio sexually abused her when she was a minor.
Both Eggert and Polinsky have spoken to Los Angeles police about the alleged abuse. Bloom said during the press conference that Baio’s homophobic taunts toward Polinsky and the pulling down of the boy’s pants constituted sexual harassment.
Polinsky said the “hazing” and “torture” began immediately after he witnessed the 14-year-old Eggert sitting on Baio’s lap backstage. Mistaking the situation for so much horseplay, the 12-year-old Polinsky leapt onto Baio’s lap as well, at which point the older actor “threw me off and angrily called me a f*ggot.”
The “pattern of abuse” continued for the run of the show, and included Baio once exposing his genitals to Polinsky while taunting him. “He said I’d never be loved by a woman because I was so effeminate.”
The bullying, Polinsky said, sent him into a depression. “I’d laugh along while choking back tears,” he said. Adults on the set were aware of the situation but took no action because “they were too scared of losing their jobs.”
Polinsky said he was not speaking out now for fame, money or revenge, but for healing and to “be a small part of change in the world,” particularly with regard to increased safety for children in acting, modeling and athletics.
He wants, he said, a public apology for both himself and Eggert from Baio. Polinsky said he last heard from Baio about 10 years ago, when Baio called to invite him to a party and apologize for his past behavior. Polinsky said he did not accept the apology as he was “not ready” to hear it then.
Eggert spoke during the press conference as well, apologizing to Polinsky for not speaking up for him back in the ’80s.
The actress also addressed her involvement in a latter-day Baio reality project — Scott Baio is 45 and Single — saying she viewed her participation in the show as “a chance to support (Baio) getting therapy.”
Bloom said she believes criminal charges resulting from Baio’s alleged abuse of Eggert are possible, but that the decision rests with the police department. Eggert and Polinsky met with two detectives last week, Bloom said.
Baio is expected to hold a press conference of his own at 2 pm PT today.