Former Child Actors Accused Of Horrible Crimes

This article contains descriptions of domestic violence, addiction, and child abuse allegations.

There are plenty of success stories when it comes to child actors. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is one of them, having appeared in shows like "Family Ties" and "3rd Rock from the Sun" as a child. As an adult, he then had success in films including "500 Days of Summer," "Inception," and "Don Jon." The actor just so happened to star in the latter movie with Scarlett Johansson, who's another child actor who did more than okay as an adult since she became a movie star. Other people who've seemed to make a smooth transition from a child to an adult actor are Leonardo DiCaprio, Natalie Portman, and Ryan Reynolds. 

But sadly, Hollywood also has a bunch of tragic stories about child actors, where their lives and careers don't go quite so well. Sometimes it's just a matter of the kids not being able to secure roles as their cuteness wears off. However, others have a much darker story that can involve some very serious allegations. Many of these former child actors have been accused of such horrible crimes that they may have cut their careers short in the process. So, let's get right to it.

Ryan Grantham hatched a murderous plot

Having starred in "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" as a child before making appearances in shows like "Supernatural," "iZombie," and "'Riverdale" as he got older, it seemed that actor, Ryan Grantham had a promising future ahead of him. But in September 2022, he was sentenced to life in prison for killing his 64-year-old mother, Barbara Waite. The actor was charged with second-degree murder, which comes with an automatic life sentence in Canada. During sentencing, it was just a matter of the judge determining how long it would be before he'd be eligible for parole — which will be in 2036. 

According to CBC News, the then-21-year-old actor shot his mother with a rifle on March 31, 2020, in their Squamish, British Columbia home as she played the piano. His reported actions following the shooting are also incredibly disturbing, with Grantham filming himself confessing to the murder while displaying Waite's body. The next day, he lit candles around her covered body and hung rosary beads from her piano. He then loaded his car with weapons and drove toward Ottawa in a plot to kill the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. Grantham also reportedly wanted to open fire at his school, Simon Fraser University. Instead, he went to the Vancouver Police Department and confessed to the killing. 

"I cannot explain or justify my actions. I have no excuse," he stated during his 2022 sentencing hearing, per UPI. "It hurts me to think about how badly I've wasted my life."

Orlando Brown has been arrested more than once

In the early '00s, Orlando Brown was known for playing Eddie Thomas on the Disney Channel's "That's So Raven." However, in more recent years his name has been associated with legal troubles and substance misuse. In 2016, TMZ reported that the star had been arrested in Torrance, California for assaulting his then-girlfriend in a police station parking lot, of all places. Brown had reportedly driven into the location during the argument, where a witness spotted the altercation and alerted nearby authorities. Once he was apprehended and locked up, police then found methamphetamine on the actor. The star was subsequently charged with drug possession with intent to sell, having contraband in jail, and domestic battery.

Two years later, he was arrested in Las Vegas for burglary after changing the locks of Legends Restaurant & Venue, owned by former Death Row Records singer, Danny Boy. Brown was caught on camera entering the kitchen of the premises before covering the lens with a rag. According to TMZ, the two used to be friends, with the "Come When I Call" performer pressing charges against Brown as he thought it would be for the actor's own good. Furthermore, in 2014, audio purportedly of Brown's voice appeared to demonstrate him telling a woman, "I'll kill you, your mama, your daughter, everybody." He denied it was him while suggesting the woman in question was a stalker, per TMZ. 

In 2021, the former Disney star said that he conquered his drug addiction after attending a Christian-based rehab facility.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Jeremy Jackson got into trouble over a car

Jeremy Jackson was 10 years old when he scored the role of Hobie Buchannon in "Baywatch." By the time he was 35, he was arrested for stabbing a woman in her arm, legs, and back, as reported by ET. The violent incident took place in Los Angeles, California in 2015, when Jackson was accused of attempting to steal a vehicle that belonged to the woman's boyfriend. He was later picked up at a hotel and charged with assault with a deadly weapon, as well as criminal threats. He eventually bonded out and made a beeline to a rehab facility.

Per TMZ, in 2017, Jackson received a 270-day sentence in the L.A. County Jail and five years probation, after pleading no contest to the crime. During an episode of E!'s "Child Star Confidential" (via People) released over a decade earlier, he explained how it was easy for him to live the fast life after his "Baywatch" success. "I probably made over $2 to $3 million from 'Baywatch.' I had the means to destroy myself: I had a lot of money, and I had a lot of people around me that weren't really my friends but I thought they were, and I totally got sucked into a downward spiral of a lifestyle," he explained. "... I had the fame, I had the girls, I had the money, and I threw it away. My drug of choice was crystal meth, and it was big-time downhill from that point on."

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Lillo Brancato was sentenced to a decade in prison

Ten years. That was the prison sentence that was handed down to Lillo Brancato in 2009. The actor's first film was 1993's "A Bronx Tale" when he was 17 years old. From there, some of his other work included the film, "Crimson Tide," as well as "The Sopranos." Four years prior to his sentencing, the actor tried to break into the house of a friend named Kenneth Scovotti to get drugs, according to The New York Times. Unbeknownst to them, Scovotti had died months earlier. Brancato was accompanied by a man named Steven Armento during the break-in, where they were confronted by Scovotti's neighbor, a 28-year-old off-duty police officer named Daniel Enchautegui.

During the encounter, Armento shot and killed officer Enchautegui, which earned him a life prison sentence. Meanwhile, Brancato claimed that he didn't know his friend had a gun, something prosecutors didn't believe. The actor had already been locked up for three years at the time of sentencing, and while he initially faced a murder charge and life in prison due to the fatal altercation, he was eventually acquitted of murder. During sentencing, Judge Justice Marcus told Brancato, "While I accept that verdict, in sentencing you, I cannot ignore the fact that as a result of the attempted burglary of which you were convicted, a brave, young police officer is dead." Brancato was released from prison in 2013 and has since resumed his acting career.

Drake Bell changed his non-guilty plea

In 2021, at the age of 34, Jared "Drake" Bell, of "Drake & Josh" fame, was accused of sexually grooming a minor who he met online. Per the Associated Press, despite originally submitting a non-guilty plea, the actor later pleaded guilty to felony attempted child endangerment, as well as disseminating matter harmful to juveniles. Before sentencing, Bell stated via Zoom, "I accept this plea because my conduct was wrong. I'm sorry the victim was harmed. It was not my intention."

The California-born actor-slash-singer was accused of having met the young fan online when she was 12. She alleged that Bell began grooming her via online chats and that she went on to attend one of his Ohio concerts when she was 15 — to which the child endangerment charge relates. The woman, who was 19 years old during the trial, also claimed that Bell started sending her sexual messages after she turned 15, and they exchanged explicit photos. She added a claim of having engaged in sexual contact with the Nickelodeon star several times, which his lawyer, Ian Friedman, vehemently denied. More specifically, he said that his client's actions were limited to the charges he pleaded guilty to. 

Bell received two years probation for his actions. As of 2022, the charges and guilty plea have seemed to affect Drake's career in a major way, as his acting output has slowed down.

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

Marcus T. Paulk turned himself in

Marcus T. Paulk, who played mischievous little brother, Myles Mitchell, on the '90s sitcom "Moesha," made headlines in 2013 after walking into a Los Angeles jail and turning himself in to police. At the time, he was accused of punching and kicking his girlfriend, Andi Roxx, so severely that she required hospital treatment for internal injuries. As TMZ reported, the former couple began arguing in a Beverly Hills nightclub after Paulk told his girlfriend that she wasn't paying him enough attention. The argument continued at their residence where Paulk was accused of having committed the assault against her.

Three months later, the former child actor was charged with domestic violence and battery and was staring at a four-year prison stint. However, after accepting a plea deal in 2014, he didn't serve any time at all. According to TMZ, he instead agreed to attend a year-long treatment program for domestic violence and was ordered to maintain a 100-yard distance from his ex-girlfriend, Roxx.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the last time Paulk got himself into trouble. One year after he managed to avoid jail time, he was arrested in Scottsdale, Arizona one night before the Super Bowl on a DUI charge as well as possession of marijuana. Paulk later pleaded guilty to the DUI while the weed charge was dropped. He was sentenced to 12 months of probation and had to complete an alcohol program.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Edward Furlong opened up about his downward spiral

Edward Furlong became a child superstar after starring alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in "Terminator 2." Sadly, as the years went on, drugs would highly affect his acting career. The actor also experienced legal run-ins as well. One of which took place in 2013 when he allegedly assaulted his ex-girlfriend in West Hollywood, according to TMZ. The woman already had a protective order against the actor in place, which Furlong violated during the assault. 

The incident brought the actor just under three months in jail. Although he pleaded no contest to domestic violence, six other charges were dropped in a plea deal, including dissuading a witness by force, and vandalism, since he smashed the woman's laptop during the altercation. He was subsequently given five years probation, sent to domestic violence counseling, and had to complete 90-days in a drug rehabilitation program.

During a 2022 interview with the Daily Mail, Furlong shared that he was four years sober. He shared that he had successfully kicked his drug habit after getting arrested for possession of an illicit substance and entering another rehabilitation facility in 2017. He also explained what went wrong after having so much early acting success. "When I was younger, I didn't have too many people looking out for me and I was left to run wild," he explained. "I didn't know how to manage my money ... I was never a normal teenager. I had a very un-normal life. I was almost destined for [drug addiction]."

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Robert Blake said he didn't do it

Before he was even 10 years old, Robert Blake already had a string of movies under his belt. Later, in his adult life, he became a major Hollywood star, appearing in critically acclaimed films such as David Lynch's "Lost Highway," and Richard Brookes' adaptation of "In Cold Blood." For decades, he was also a mainstay of television, starring in a variety of shows like "Rawhide" and "Baretta." But everything changed for the actor in May 2001 after his 44-year-old wife Bonny Lee Bakley was found shot and killed as she sat in his vehicle. The couple had just finished dining at Vitello's Restaurant in Studio City, California. 

When Blake was questioned by police about the shooting, he claimed not to be there since he was retrieving his gun which was left in the restaurant. According to Fox News, Blake said he was carrying the weapon because his wife's life was in danger. But after a lengthy year-long investigation, the actor was arrested. Per CNN, he pleaded not guilty to one count of murder and two counts of solicitation of murder. In 2005, after a 12-week trial, he was acquitted of the crime. 

Still, in 2008, he lost an appeal against a civil suit filed by Bakley's family where a Los Angeles court found him liable for his wife's death. Per BBC News, he was ordered to pay a reduced award of $15 million in damages — half of what was originally asked of him. 

Joey Cramer's sentence saved his life

As a child, Joey Cramer was exchanging dialogue with Sarah Jessica Parker when he starred in the 1986 Disney film, "Flight of the Navigator." However, as a 42-year-old man, his life would look a lot different. In 2016, he was arrested for robbing a bank in British Columbia. The Guardian shared the story and reported that Cramer had walked into a bank wearing sunglasses, a wig, and a bandana. From there, he ordered that money be handed over, before hightailing it in a vehicle once he spotted police.

Based on previous interactions that Cramer had with the authorities, his attempts to conceal his identity didn't fool them at all. In a statement published by the outlet, a constable on the case explained, "Despite the fact that a disguise was used during the robbery, the suspect was quickly identified by some of our officers, who had recently dealt with him on an unrelated matter." Per Coast Reporter, Cramer was sentenced to two years less a day after already being locked up for six months, which was credited to him. He received two years probation on top of that and had to complete counseling and treatment for substance misuse.

Speaking to the Daily Star in 2020, the actor suggested that serving time gave him the chance to get clean and start afresh. "It was such a relief when I got arrested," he explained. "... I've come out the other side and I embrace who I am now."

Brian Bonsall was accused of sheer violence

Brian Bonsall was brought onto the '80s sitcom, "Family Ties" as Andy Keaton mid-way through the show's run, seemingly to add a cuteness factor. That's because the Keaton kids were adults by then, even the youngest sibling Jennifer Keaton. But the star's actions after the show ended were anything but cute. In 2007, he was accused of having assaulted his girlfriend in Boulder, Colorado. 

The former child actor claimed self-defense after saying she stabbed him in the arm — something she denied. But a 25-year-old Bonsall still pleaded guilty to charges of second-degree assault and false imprisonment. Per 19 News, the victim said that he poured a drink on her face as she slept, choked her, and wouldn't let her leave. Eventually, the troubled actor received two years probation after pleading guilty to third-degree assault.

Two years later, the "Star Trek: The Next Generation" star was busted again, this time for getting into a fight in a Boulder, Colorado apartment with a man named Michael Trujillo, who was his friend. The Denver Post reported that Trujillo accused the actor of beating him with a broken stool. Not only was Bonsall arrested and charged with third-degree assault for the act, but he was also slapped with additional charges for failing to show up for a scheduled court appearance related to his 2007 assault charge. He was put on two years probation for the Trujillo fight after pleading guilty, and ordered to complete treatment for his drug use and mental health issues.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.