Former child star Todd Bridges broke down as he read an extract from his memoirs on U.S. TV show "The Oprah Winfrey Show" on Wednesday, April 28 - because his own words brought back terrible memories of a childhood molestation. Host Oprah Winfrey asked the ex-"Diff'rent Strokes" star to read from his book, "Killing Willis", after he revealed how the sex acts had begun when he was just 11.
The actor explained that a trusted male mentor and publicist had treated him to gifts and urged him to ignore the adulation of screaming girl fans before sexually abusing him. Bridges started reading and lost his composure as he fought back tears. He continued, "He pulled my pants down. He put his mouth on me and I got hard. I didn't know where to look or how to feel. I squirmed against the back of the seat... I hoped it would be over fast. That's what happened; I came."
He added, "As I confessed and I was upset about it, I liked the way that it felt. I didn't think about whether or not it was wrong." The actor held his head in his hand and started crying as he put the book down and told Winfrey, "I'm past it but it still hurts because it ruined my life. I spent the rest of my time trying to cover up how I felt about it, that pain."
Bridges composed himself after a commercial break and revealed his molester, a man named Ronald, tried to take the place of his father - and he had confusing moments where he just attacked the man who stole his innocence. The actor's mother, who was in the studio audience, revealed her son's strange behavior struck a chord with her - because she had been molested as a child, also.
Bridges explained, "My mother took me off of him. I think she knew right away what had happened." His mum then chased Ronald out of the house with a knife and called her son's father, who refused to believe Bridges had been molested.
The actor recalled, "That really destroyed me because my father was supposed to be my protector. He didn't protect me." At that point, Bridges broke down again and sobbed, "He allowed this man to do this to me and didn't help me. I have kids today (and) if my kids told me that, I'm going to jail; that guy's dead. There's no way he's gonna live."
Todd Bridges also talked about his relationship with Janet Jackson, saying he resisted a romance with her - because he refused to treat her like the other girls he used and abused. He bedded girls like co-star Dana Plato and fans - but there was something about Jackson, who played his girlfriend on the beloved sitcom, that made him turn down her bids for a real-life romance.
"I backed away from her because she was such a nice person and so good to me that I just couldn't see myself hurting her like that... (but) we went out for a little while," he said.