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Nickelodeon directors who supported Drake Bell's sexual abuser apologize: 'We are devastated'

Rich and Beth Correll later worked on "The Suite Life of Zack & Cody," which featured voice work from Brian Peck after he served jail time for abusing Bell as a minor.

TV directors Rich and Beth Correll — who were revealed in the new Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV documentary to have written character letters for former dialogue coach Brian Peck who was convicted of sexually assaulting Nickelodeon star Drake Bell as a minor — are apologizing for defending the child molester.

“We extend our deepest apologies to Drake Bell and his family, and we deeply regret our decision many years ago to request leniency for someone who we later learned had committed a horrible crime and caused so much pain and trauma to Drake and others," the Corrells told Variety in a statement. "If we had known the truth at the time the letters were written, we never would have written them. There are no words to express how awful we feel for being on the wrong side of a horrific situation and the trauma it caused you, Drake. We are devastated that we unwittingly supported the unsupportable."

<p>Lee Celano/WireImage</p>

Lee Celano/WireImage

They continued: "Our biggest priority having worked on many sets throughout the years was the safety of children. We would never knowingly put any child in danger. We are saddened and appalled to hear all the in-depth details following the release of [Quiet on Set.] Children must be protected and should always be in a safe environment… both at work and at home. Drake, you are in our hearts, we are proud of your bravery, and we hope that now you are able to heal. Again, we are so sorry." (Entertainment Weekly has reached out to representatives for the Corrells for further comment.)

A representative for Bell had no comment when reached by EW.

Amid numerous claims of on-set toxicity (particularly alleged against network supercreator Dan Schneider) at Nickelodeon throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Quiet on Set revealed after 20 years that the Drake & Josh actor was the minor — identified in the court case at the time only as John Doe — who was repeatedly sexually assaulted by the Amanda Show coach at age 15.

Peck was arrested in 2003 and subsequently sentenced to 16 months in jail and required to register as a sex offender after pleading no contest to two counts of child sexual abuse. The series brought to light that Peck received 41 letters of support as he awaited sentencing — including from James Marsden, Taran Killam, Growing Pains stars Alan Thicke and Joanna KernsTwin Peaks actress Kimmy Robertson, Boy Meets World actors Will Friedle and Rider StrongAmerican Horror Story actor Ron Melendez, and the Corrells, among others.

Per the doc, Rich wrote in his letter that "it would be my pleasure to…work with [Peck] again." The Corrells, who worked on Nickelodeon's The Amanda Show and Drake & Josh, did in fact work with the registered sex offender after he was released from prison on Disney Channel's The Suite Life With Zack and Cody. However, the Corrells stated in Quiet on Set that "they had no input or involvement" in Peck's casting, and said when they asked him about the case, "Mr. Peck simply replied that 'the problem had been resolved.'"

Representatives for Marsden, Killam, Robertson, Kerns, Friedle, Strong, Melendez, and the Corrells did not respond to EW’s prior requests for comment. Kerns provided a statement to the Quiet on Set production, in which she stated “I have now learned that my letter of support was based on complete misinformation. Knowing what I know now, I never would have written the letter." The program also indicated that many of the letters of support for Peck could have been written based on misinformation.

<p>Investigation Discovery/Youtube</p> Drake Bell in 'Quiet on Set'

Investigation Discovery/Youtube

Drake Bell in 'Quiet on Set'

In his first interview since Quiet on Set premiered, Bell told The Sarah Fraser Show podcast that he hadn't received private apologies from "anybody that had written letters, or was involved in supporting him."

He continued: “I learned that later, I mean, there were multiple people that had supported him that went on to work on Drake & Josh."

Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV is now streaming on Investigation Discovery and Max.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.

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