Scott Baio is on the defensive about the controversial statements he made following the death of his Happy Days co-star Erin Moran earlier this week.
Moran died on Saturday at the age of 56. Officials tell ET that her death was likely due to complications from Stage 4 cancer.
However, before the actress’ cause of death had been announced, Baio appeared on The Bernie & Sid Show, where he insinuated that the actress died as a result of past substance abuse issues.
“For me, you do drugs or drink, you’re gonna die,” Baio said during the radio interview. “I’m sorry if that’s cold, but God gave you a brain, gave you the will to live and thrive and you gotta take care of yourself.”
Baio immediately took heat for his comments, especially after the news of Moran’s cancer battle came to light.
On Monday, Baio took to Facebook to clarify his remarks in a seething message directed at the media, who Baio says are trying to “paint a different picture of me and of what really happened.”
“[On Monday], I did a live radio interview. I was asked ONLY about Erin’s troubled past due to drug & alcohol abuse. I was still upset and said I felt that living that kind of a lifestyle will catch up with you and nothing good would come of it,” Baio wrote. “THIS WAS BEFORE THE CAUSE OF DEATH WAS ANNOUNCED STATING STAGE 4 CANCER.”
Baio railed against news outlets who he claims reported that his comments about her drug use were made after the news broke that Moran died of cancer, which the Charles in Charge star said is untrue.
“This is so wrong! Now I truly understand the meaning of ‘Fake News,'” wrote Baio, referring to a term famously used by President Donald Trump, whom the actor stumped for during his presidential campaign last year.
“I’m also trying to process this loss,” he continued. “Erin was my very first real girlfriend. My wife [Renee Sloan] and Erin contacted each other and spoke often for over a decade. I even had her on my reality show years ago. I DID reach out to her over a span of 30 years. Please stop assuming the worse in me. I’m a compassionate person. I’m very heartbroken over her passing, especially since it was cancer.”
Baio and Moran appeared together in the long-running sitcom Happy Days, and later took starring roles in the short-lived spin-off Joanie Loves Chachi, in which they played the title characters.
In the wake of her death, Moran’s husband, Steven Fleischmann, penned a heartbreaking open letter about his late wife’s deteriorating health in the final days before she died, explaining, “It got so bad, so fast.” Watch the video below for more on Moran’s passing.