In his new film, “Gardens of the Night,” Tom Arnold tackles the role of a child molester. But in real life, Tom said he was the victim of sexual molestation when he was a young child.
And Tom opened up to Access Hollywood’s Nancy O’Dell with his truly brutal account of the abuse he said he endured.
“I was 12 and I was dying to know what sex was and my stepmother gave me a book to read about sex,” Tom explained. “[It was a] sex education book and I look through it and I went, ‘Oh! I’ve already done that.’”
Tom told Access he hadn’t even reached kindergarten in his Iowa hometown when he was sexually abused.
“When I was 4, my mother was still living with us and she would take off during the day and she left me with the guy across the street,” Tom began.
“He was a neighbor?” Nancy asked.
“He was a neighbor guy, yeah,” Tom said. “From what I pieced together, she was having an affair and my dad and she divorced when I was 4.”
Though his dad hired in-home baby sitters after his alcoholic mother left, Tom said the molestation continued.
“You know, you’re a kid, you don’t know what sex is. It was a game I played and then at the end, I got a candy bar,” Tom said. “I had a single father and I never told him because he didn’t want me to eat candy because it made me hyper.”
According to Tom, the abuse lasted until he was 7. By then, the man was 22. Now more than 40 years removed from the abuse, Tom still finds it tough to talk about.
“The game was, we played the game and he would do his things to me and he would get very mad,” Tom said.
“When you say sex, [do] you mean he penetrated you?” Nancy asked.
“Without getting too specific… Yeah… He did everything to me that bad guys do,” Tom said.
Tom said his alleged molester called what he did “a game.” But as he got older, he knew the molestation was anything but.
“As I got a little bit older, I knew something was really wrong with this game,” Tom said.
“Did you feel — even at age 4 — that [it was wrong]?” Nancy asked.
“I knew it was strange at age 4,” Tom replied. “He would obviously touch me and do things to me and I knew that it hurt… I do remember having bleeding and my dad was concerned about that.”
Tom said things got very serious when he began to struggle against his alleged molester.
“As I got older, I resisted more and he threatened [me],” Tom said. “One day he had a gun and he pulled it out and came out to the front porch. My dad was getting out of his car, he [had just gotten] home from work. And [the man] said ‘I could shoot your dad between the eyes from here.’ And he could! It was like, across the street and so that was a warning to me.”
But the incident was also a call to arms for 7-year-old Tom.
“He was threatening to kill my dad and I couldn’t have that. My dad was my hero. And so my dad had a gun in the house … and [in] the other part of the house was a locked case with a cartridge. I found a way to break in — my dad remembers this too — I came out in the middle of the street with the gun.”
Tom said he shouted for his alleged molester as he stood in the street when the man’s father came out instead.
“You know, I’m 7 years old but I got all the other neighborhood kids with me there and my dad got a call at work, ‘It’s Tom. He’s out in the street with a gun” and, of course, he was very mad because I never told him why,” Tom said. “And now, he knows why.”