Talk-show host Dr. Mehmet Oz continues his focus on pedophilia in Hollywood on Friday with an appearance by former child star Todd Bridges.
The “Diff'rent Strokes” star, now 52, will discuss the details of his own molestation at the hands of a publicist and family friend when he was 11.
He first went public with the abuse in his 2010 memoir, “Killing Willis: From Diff'rent Strokes to the Mean Streets to the Life I Always Wanted.”
Bridges wrote the man, whom he identified as Ronald, abused him on four occasions, including while he was starring on “Diff'rent Strokes.” He says Ronald performed oral sex on him multiple times.
"When it happened the second time, I thought it meant that I was gay," he wrote. "I was very confused. I really believed I wasn't normal and that made me feel even worse about myself than I had before."
Bridges says he finally summoned the courage to stop Ronald during the fifth encounter in his car.
"Something had changed inside of me," he realized. "I don't know what it was. Maybe I was tired of feeling bad about myself. But I had had enough."
He says Ronald got angry at being rebuffed.
"That scared me," Bridges wrote. "I wasn't worried that he would hurt me any more than he already had. No. As angry as I was, I had wanted him to like and care about me for so long, it was hard for me to feel like I was disappointing him. That's how successfully he had gotten into my brain. Obviously, he was a total predator."
Things reached a breaking point a week later when Ronald visited the Bridges family home.
"Ronald walked into the room, looking as relaxed and carefree as ever," he wrote. "As soon as he came in the door, I jumped up and attacked him. Nobody could believe it. ... I kept hitting him and hitting him, fueled by all my shame and fury."
Bridges said his mother was initially flummoxed when she came into the room, yelling, "Have you lost your mind?"
But he says he believed she understood what was going on, noting, "My mom had been molested as a child herself, so she knew what it did to an otherwise sweet, happy kid."
"He touched me," Bridges told his mom, afraid to utter the words aloud.
"It didn't take more than that," he wrote. "My mom ran out of the room and came back with a butcher knife. I felt such a sense of relief when I saw that knife. She wasn't mad at me. She was going to help me get free of Ronald. He would never be able to touch me again."
In his Dr. Oz interview, Bridges says when the cast of the iconic sitcom filmed "The Bicycle Man," a two-episode story arc about pedophilia, in 1983, his co-stars weren't aware he'd been abused himself.
"I didn't let on that the material in the script upset me," he said in his book. "That was a very hard week for me, and I pushed my feelings down, hard."
He says that fellow pedophilia survivors like Corey Feldman, who's appeared on Oz's show twice this month, struggled to understand that the problem goes far beyond them and their abusers or Hollywood.
"It's bigger than what you really think it is," he explained. "You think it's just your little small section. No, it's bigger.”
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