Soap Opera Stars Accused Of Serious Crimes

This feature discusses domestic violence, sexual assault, and alcohol misuse.

Full of lust, romance, and melodrama, Soap operas are renowned for their outrageous plots. But these popular daytime dramas have also famously packed their episodes with criminal plots, murders, kidnappings, assaults, robberies, and a host of other crimes. There's no shortage of examples involving soap characters breaking the law in unforgivable ways.

One can't help but wonder, does that imaginary world of never-ending drama rub off on the actors who spend years (in some cases, decades) portraying their characters? While real life doesn't seem quite as full of passion-inspired kidnappings and revenge-seeking robberies as the soap opera world would have us believe, people still commit plenty of illegal acts on a daily basis. And some soap stars certainly seem prone to landing themselves in some very soapy — and scary — situations from time to time. Here are a few instances when soap opera stars were accused of crimes, misdemeanors, murders, and more.

Jensen Buchanan

Jensen Buchanan is a seasoned soap opera actor. She's appeared in "Another World," "One Life to Live," "General Hospital," "As the World Turns," and "The Young and the Restless." In 2016, the soap star had a serious run-in with the law when she drifted into the wrong side of the road and hit another driver head-on. The California Highway Patrol determined Buchanan was drunk when the crash occurred and she was arrested for driving while under the influence, per People. 

The crash came with serious consequences. The victim of the collision, Bradley Asolas, suffered severe health problems after the accident. According to Santa Maria Times, he broke his femur, pelvis, and two ribs. He also suffered lacerations in his liver, spleen, and pancreas, and experienced chronic heart problems. Buchanan pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a year in County Jail plus 5 years probation. Asolas didn't think it was an intense enough punishment, telling the Santa Maria Times, "I think it's wrong. My life's forever changed, and she got off with a slap on the wrist."

Buchanan was released from jail after serving a month and a half of her sentence. In 2018, she went back to jail briefly for violating her probation, though ultimately she was found not guilty of the violation.

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).

Freddie Smith

If you're a "Days of Our Lives" fan, you might be familiar with Freddie Smith, who portrayed the character, Sonny Kiriakis from 2011 to 2020. In 2014, the soap star was arrested as a result of a drunk-driving incident. Smith and his girlfriend, Alyssa Tabit, were visiting his hometown of Ashtabula, Ohio for a wedding. According to Star Beacon, they were on their way to his parent's house when, intoxicated, he fell asleep at the wheel and lost control of the car. "I went off to the left, injuring my girlfriend, as well as myself," he reportedly said in court.

According to the Daily Mail, the car flipped over, trapping Tabit inside. She was critically injured and had to be immediately flown to a nearby hospital. During the crash, his blood alcohol level was reported as being 0.98 above the state limit. Smith pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and vehicular assault, which is a fourth-degree misdemeanor. He was sentenced to 3 days in jail, a 1-year suspension of his driver's license, and 2 years of probation.

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).

Sean Kanan

Sean Kanan is predominantly known for portraying the character, Deacon Sharpe on the long-running soap opera, "The Bold and the Beautiful" though he's also made appearances on other soaps like "The Young and the Restless," and "General Hospital." "Karate Kid" fans will also recognize him from the third installment of the '80s film franchise as Mike Barnes, a role that he reprised several decades later in "Cobra Kai." 

In 2007, Kanan was arrested for driving under the influence and charged with a misdemeanor. However, he was reportedly released after posting the $30,000 bail. His run-in with the law was further drawn out when reports were released that there was a warrant out for his arrest due to a missed court date. Kanan denied that he had intentionally done anything wrong and the warrant was reportedly recalled by the courts, according to his attorney. 

The soap star insisted that the whole thing had been a misunderstanding and that he'd done everything requested of him. "I take this situation very seriously. I have been working incredibly hard on creating positive changes in my life. I would never knowingly neglect a court date nor any conditions placed on me by the court system," he said in a statement, per Soaps

Winsor Harmon

Winsor Harmon started his soap opera career on the classic, "All My Children." He then went on to become the third actor to take on the role of Thorne Forrester on "The Bold and the Beautiful," a role that he maintained for over 20 years. In February 2018, TMZ reported that Harmon was arrested for public intoxication. According to the outlet, the cops were called after some parkgoers witnessed the actor urinating in public. Law enforcement officials found him asleep in his car surrounded by empty wine bottles.

Unfortunately, this wasn't his only arrest that year. A couple of months later, it was reported that Harmon had repeated history and had been caught in an act of public intoxication once again. This time, he was reportedly found asleep in the back of his car surrounded by empty beer cans. The police allegedly deemed him unfit to take care of himself so arrested him and took him to jail, where he spent the night. He was later let off the hook with a citation.

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).

Bruno Langley

British actor, Bruno Langley is known for playing the role of Todd Grimshaw on the long-running British soap, "Coronation Street." According to The Sun, in 2017, the soap star was accused of sexual assault, with two women alleging that he'd grabbed and groped them on separate occasions on the same night in a Manchester bar. Both women pressed charges. When the case went to court, the judge addressed Langley directly when he concluded, "On that evening your conduct was quite disgraceful, indeed degrading.

The actor's lawyer insisted that his behavior was an isolated incident prompted by intoxication. In court, Langley apologized. "I have absolutely no memory of what happened because of excessive alcohol consumption and it was for this reason that I behaved completely out of character," he said (via The Guardian) "... However, I take full responsibility for my actions that night. Since this incident, I have been dealing with and confronting some personal issues that I have never addressed, and I am also getting help for an alcohol problem so that this does not ever happen again." 

He was sentenced to 40 days of rehab and a 12-month community order, in which his movements were monitored and he was placed on a curfew. In addition, he was also ordered to pay his victims £250 each (around $300) and was registered as a sex offender for five years.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

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).

Jessica Morris

For soap opera fans, Jessica Morris is recognizable for playing Jennifer Rappaport on "One Life to Live" between 1999 and 2008. A little over three years after she'd left the show, Morris got herself into a very soap opera-esque situation when she nearly bit off the lip of her married lover during an argument. According to TMZ, Morris was having an affair with the actor, Rib Hillis who was married to dancer, Elena Grinenko at the time. They were reportedly in a heated argument over their relationship when she attacked her boyfriend by biting his lip. Hillis' injuries were significant, and his lip required 25 stitches. He insisted that he didn't engage in violence himself during the altercation. 

Morris was later charged with "one count of felony domestic violence with great bodily injury." Her attorney stated, "This situation is difficult for everyone involved, and is complicated." Despite the incident, it appears the couple's relationship continued — and Hillis eventually got divorced from his wife — because three years later, the couple got engaged. Morris announced the news on Instagram in December 2022 with a picture of the couple celebrating with champagne while flashing her engagement ring. In the caption, she wrote, "So this happened ... Finally!" Meanwhile, in the comments, Hillis wrote, "Words can't express how much I love you. We have been through so much together, and apart, over the years and you have never given up on me, on us,"

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.

Guilherme de Pádua

In 1992, two Brazilian soap opera co-stars became entangled in a dark real-life drama that ended with one of them dead. Guilherme de Pádua and Daniella Perez played a pair of fictional lovers on the Brazilian soap, "De Corpo e Alma" ("Of Body and Soul"). However, it was alleged that they may have had an affair off-screen as well. As Perez's mom was the writer of the show, de Pádua suggested that he engaged in the purported romance in a bid to enhance his career. However, as reported by AP, others suggested that Thomaz was actively pursued by her co-star and had rejected him. Whatever the truth, de Pádua's wife, Paula de Almeida Thomaz, was said to be jealous. 

When Perez's body was discovered with over 16 stab wounds, de Pádua initially confessed to the murder, but later testified that his wife was responsible, per CNN. Thomaz also initially confessed to her part in the murder, but later recanted her admission and blamed her husband. During his initial confession, de Pádua claimed that he drove Perez to a quiet beach. His wife wanted to join them and hid in the back seat — eventually leading to a fight between the passengers. 

Ultimately, both de Pádua and Thomaz were charged with murder and the actor was sentenced to 19 years of prison. However, he was released on parole just seven years later, whereupon he pleaded for forgiveness from Perez's parents. 

Pablo Lyle

Pablo Lyle is an actor from the Mexican soap opera, "Mi Adorable Maldición" ("My Adorable Curse"). In 2019, he got himself into some big trouble with the law following a road rage incident in Miami, Florida. According to The Miami Herald, Lyle and his family had been vacationing in the vibrant city and were on their way to the airport when his brother-in-law, who was driving, cut off another car on the highway. At a stoplight, the offended driver and victim, 63-year-old Juan Ricardo Hernandez, reportedly got out of his car and confronted Lyle's family. As he walked back to his car, the telenovela star got out of the family vehicle and punched him. The blow caused Hernandez to fall and he later died in the hospital as a result of traumatic brain injury. 

In October 2022, the soap star was convicted of manslaughter and faced up to 15 years of prison. Lyle's defense team requested another trial but the request was denied, per AP News.

Stephen Martines

Soap opera fans may know Stephen Martines as Nikolas Cassadine from "General Hospital" or Tony Santos from "Guiding Light." In 2018, he was accused by multiple people of scamming them out of money. As reported by Riverfront Times, multiple women he'd dated accused the star of having taken significant amounts of money from them under false pretenses. He even allegedly gained access to their social security numbers and opened credit cards under their identities. A pool repairman also accused the actor of scamming him out of $15,000. Martines had reportedly claimed interest in developing the grieving man's manuscript into a film — a fictionalized account of his late son's life. 

Speaking to KSDK, one of the women, Ashley Dayley, alleged that she dated the charming soap star for four months. When they broke up, she claimed that she had to change her address to get away from him. "He lives off everybody else's money and credit," she suggested. "He's the definition of a con artist." Investigative reporter, Robert Langellier further looked into the story and said, "In almost every case it's a young white female that he's met through online dating." The reporter claimed to have found at least 12 other women who shared a similar story about the soap star. "I don't know how far it goes ... I get the impression that I've only scratched the surface," he told KSDK.