"If I could go back to a younger Nicole, I would tell her that she doesn't have to be ashamed that she's a victim," Nicole Eggert told Megyn Kelly
During a Tuesday appearance on Megyn Kelly Today, Eggert, 46, opened up about claims she first made on Twitter over the weekend, in which she alleged her Charles in Charge costar Baio, 57, molested her beginning at age 14.
“We started filming the show in September of ’86 when I was 14,” recalled Eggert of the CBS family sitcom, in which Baio played the title character, a college student caring for a household of children, including one played by Eggert.
“He immediately took to me and befriended me and earned my trust,” she said. “Then he started expressing his love for me and talking about marriage in the future. Before my 15th birthday, we were at his house, in his car, in his garage, and he reached over and he penetrated me with his finger. That is when the sexual touching and abuse started, after that.”
Baio has denied Eggert’s claims, calling them “100 [percent] lies.” In a 16-minute Facebook Live on Sunday, the actor claimed the two had sex after Charles in Charge was off the air, when Eggert would have been 18 — and alleged that she was the one who “seduced” him. A rep for Baio has not responded to PEOPLE’s request for further comment on Eggert’s allegations.
Eggert, however, says the alleged sexual abuse “happened quite often” at Baio’s house from when she was 14 to 16 — more than 10 times and about once a week, she claimed.
“I was very young and it was shocking,” she said. “I had never experienced anything like before, either. He was playing on my emotions and my hormones and all of those things.”
“The issue with him is that he was our boss,” she continued. “He also was telling me, ‘You can’t tell anybody, this is illegal, I will go to jail. The show will be over, everyone will be sued. You will be out of a job, you will ruin everybody’s life.’ And that’s scary and it’s intimidating, especially when you’re that young.”
Eggert also said that on set, “there was just a lot of groping, a lot of fondling, a lot of pulling me on his lap, trying to sneak kisses in the back, which a lots of cast members saw.”
“I don’t think they knew about the actual physical sexual abuse, but everybody knew the attention that he gave me,” she said.
Asked if she considered Baio a boyfriend at the time, Eggert said, “There was a bit of, ‘This person loves me and I trust this person and he cares about me and I’m safe.’ It wasn’t until getting a little bit older that I started to realize this is not love.”
Eggert told Kelly that the first time she and Baio had sex was when she was 17, while Charles in Charge was still in production, and that Baio was the one to initiate it. (The age of consent in California is 18.)
“I was a willing participant to an extent,” she said. “There was a lot of manipulation that went into it. It wasn’t a ‘Hold me down, rape me’ situation. … But I was 17. … It was upsetting. It wasn’t a good experience, at all.”
“It was at my house, in my spare bedroom,” she said. “He laid down a towel, and it happened there. So that’s the God’s honest truth. … He didn’t treat me well on set after it happened. He was quite mean to me afterwards.”
Eggert also explained why she “covered up” the alleged behavior in interviews for years.
“I wasn’t ready to tell my story,” she said. “For me, it was always protecting the show and protecting that whole legacy — that nothing happened. That was my delusion and that was my cover-up, always. I did it my whole life. I always lied about it. … I’m really good at covering up. I got really good at burying it and putting it away in a box and saying, ‘That’s not me.’ “
“If I could go back to a younger Nicole, I would tell her that she doesn’t have to be ashamed that she’s a victim,” she continued. “I didn’t want anybody to look at me and think I was weak and think, ‘Oh, victim.’ It’s not until now that I see other people coming forward. … When I talk to other women, I don’t think, ‘Oh, you’re weak.’ … It’s made me realize that it’s not gross, and it’s not embarrassing.”
Eggert said she told “a few” of her “close, close friends,” but that they “didn’t have a good reaction to it, so it wasn’t something I felt open to talking about, very much.”
During the interview, Kelly shared a statement from Nik Richie, a radio host who said Eggert had told him Baio had molested her. Kelly also said Charles in Charge actor Alexander Polinsky confirmed that he witnessed “inappropriate cuddling” between Eggert and Baio on set.
Additionally, Kelly pointed to a tweet from Adam Carl, who worked on the set of Charles in Charge, in which he said he remembers being with Eggert while she cried about Baio on set.
Eggert’s attorney Lisa Bloom said the actress “definitely has [legal] options,” including a possible civil case and a defamation case because Baio called her a liar.
“We’re discussing what the options are,” said Eggert. “He’s asked me to [take action]. So he might just get what he wishes for.”