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‘Zoey 101’ star Matthew Underwood says he was sexually assaulted as a teenager

The 33-year-old said he was sharing his experience after receiving criticism for his silence about the “Quiet on Set” documentary, adding he “never had a bad experience” with Nickelodeon.
Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards 2023 - Arrivals
Matthew Underwood at the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards in 2023.Mark Von Holden / Variety via Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Former Nickelodeon actor Matthew Underwood said he was sexually harassed and assaulted as a child and teenager, which led him to give up acting.

The former "Zoey 101" star, 33, posted a statement to Instagram March 29, sharing his response to the “Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV” documentary series, which explored the working conditions of child actors on popular Nickelodeon shows. Underwood said he issued the statement after being "harassed" to respond to the explosive four-part series.

“When I was 12 years old, I was groomed and molested by my best friends’ stepfather,” he wrote. “I lost the best friends I’d ever had because I couldn’t spend any time with them without feeling the personal disgust and betrayal brought on by a man I trusted as a father to me.”

Underwood said he was also sexually harassed and assaulted by an agent, whom he did not name, that he worked with when he was 19 years old.

"This experience provoked my move away from LA and ended my pursuit of acting," he said.

Underwood clarified in the caption of the post that his current agents are “incredible humans who are sincere, genuine, and smart professionals,” adding that they always listen to his concerns.

“If it wasn’t for Lauren and Sam, I would never have been on a screen again,” he wrote.

Underwood, who most recently reprised his "Zoey 101" role of Logan in 2023's "Zoey 102," said he chose to share this information after he started receiving an influx of messages about "Quiet on Set."

"Lately, many people have been blowing up my email telling me they hope me and my mom die and that we burn in hell, I'm being called a pedophile defender and all that jazz," he wrote.

"Quiet on Set" spotlights two convicted sex offenders who worked on the set of Nickelodeon shows.

It also highlights the influence of Dan Schneider, who created "Zoey 101." The documentary alleges Schneider created a toxic and inappropriate culture behind the scenes of some Nickelodeon shows.

Schneider has denied allegations of misconduct and told through a spokesperson that he “expected and asked a lot from his teams.”

“Dan (Schneider) expected and asked a lot from his teams. They worked long hours and consistently made successful shows. In the challenges of production, Dan (Schneider) could get frustrated at times, and he understands why some employees found that intimidating and stressful,” a March 18 statement reads, citing “many” former colleagues who “still tell him how much they enjoyed and appreciated working on his shows.”

Underwood said he shared his statement "with hope that some of you can recognize that just because a person doesn’t shout from the rooftops that pedophiles are bad or that people can suck — that does not mean they don’t have their own reasons for staying silent, good reasons, personal reasons."

He continued, “I have extreme empathy for anyone who has been taken advantage of by people they trusted. I hope they are all able to grow to love themselves and have great support from their family and friends in their journey of recovery.”

In regards to the documentary’s allegations against Schneider, Underwood said he “never had a bad experience” on a Nickelodeon set. Underwood added that he would “like to believe that (Schneider) is fully capable of being a creator and coworker everyone can enjoy working with.”

“I can’t believe I even have to say this, but of course I don’t f---ing support pedophiles. Please stop wishing death upon my family and please reconsider harassing other actors who wish to maintain their privacy — you never know who has already been a victim of the hell you’re wishing upon them,” he concluded.

The “Quiet on Set” docuseries featured accounts from writers, former child stars and Nickelodeon staffers, who alleged that the work atmosphere was toxic.

Since the release of the documentary series, former stars like Josh Peck, Devon Werkheiser and Kenan Thompson have spoken out about their experiences on Nickelodeon sets.