CLEVELAND (AP) — Drake Bell, the former star of the popular Nickelodeon show “Drake & Josh,” was sentenced Monday in Cleveland to two years’ probation on charges of endangering children in relation to a girl who killed him. online and accused him of sexual contact after she attended his concert when she was 15.
Jared “Drake” Bell, 35, of West Hollywood, California, pleaded guilty last month via Zoom felony attempted endangerment of children and a felony charge of distributing material harmful to minors.
Cuyahoga County Judge Timothy McCormick allows Bell to serve probation and 200 hours of community service in California.
Bell, via Zoom, spoke shortly before the sentencing.
“I accept this plea because my behavior was wrong,” Bell said. “I’m sorry the victim was injured. It was not my intention.”
The 19-year-old victim spoke at length about the damage Bell has done to her life, saying that he started taking care of her when she was 12. She said she initially felt loved and protected by him during online chats and that his messages became “over the top”. sexually’ after she turned 15. She said his comments made her feel uncomfortable, but she felt trapped for “idolatry” Bell.
“I was definitely one of his biggest fans,” said the woman, who showed her face on Zoom. “I would have done anything for him.”
The Associated Press does not identify people who say they have been sexually assaulted unless they choose to come forward publicly.
The woman said she and Bell exchanged explicit photos online and that he engaged in sexual behavior with her several times, including at the Cleveland concert venue and at a hotel. She also called Bell a “pedophile” and a “coward.”
Bell’s attorney, Ian Friedman, disputed those claims on Monday. He said there were no explicit photos or sexual contact between Bell and the victim and that the inappropriate behavior that took place was reflected in the charges that Bell argued last month. Friedman gave no details about the inappropriate behavior Bell acknowledged.
Friedman said the victim attended nine Bell concerts after the one in Cleveland. The woman responded by raising three fingers.
“There has already been a higher fine paid by Mr. Bell that others would not get because of his position,” Friedman said.
Authorities have said the victim contacted the Toronto Police Department in October 2018. Toronto authorities then forwarded their findings to the Cleveland Police Department, prompting an investigation.
The attempted endangerment of children relates to: to the concert where Bell “violated his duty of care” and created a risk of injury to the victim, Cuyahoga County Attorney General Tyler Sinclair said earlier.
Bell and the girl had developed an online relationship several years prior to the concert, Sinclair said. The accusation of spreading harmful material concerns Bell who sent the girl “inappropriate social media messages,” Sinclair said.
Before delivering Bell’s verdict, McCormick said he heard “many serious and disturbing allegations” during Monday’s hearing, but added he “cannot lose focus on what has been argued.”
“The fact of the matter is, your position and celebrity make you nurture this relationship,” McCormick said. “You were able to access this child.”
Bell, also a singer, started acting as a child but was catapulted to stardom as a teenager with Nickelodeon’s “The Amanda Show” and later “Drake & Josh”, which debuted on the channel in January 2004. The last episode aired in September 2007. Bell and co-star Josh Peck also starred in two ‘Drake & Josh’ movies.
This story has been corrected to show Bell is 35 years old, not 34.
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