Entertainment

Drake Bell Offers Explanation Of Child Endangerment Guilty Plea, Urges Fans To “Come To Your Own Conclusions”

Former Nickelodeon star Drake Bell, who was sentenced to two years’ probation and community service in July after pleading guilty in charges stemming from his online conduct with an underage fan, says in a new Instagram video that he did not know the age of the fan at the time of their virtual communication and that “all conversation and communication stopped” when he became aware.

“I responded to a fan whose age I didn’t know,” the onetime Drake & Josh star says in his first non-courtroom public response to the case. “When I became aware of their age, all conversation and communication stopped.” He added that the fan “continued to come to shows and pay for meet and greets,” and that he did not know that the person he met on those occasions was the same one he had ceased communicating with online.

Watch Bell’s video response below.

In the video, Bell states that “there were no sexual images, nothing physical” between himself and his accuser.  “I was not charged with anything physical,” he says. “I was not charged with the disseminating of photographs or images or anything like that. This is strictly over text messages.”

Bell acknowledges in the video that his behavior was “reckless and irresponsible.”

In a contentious hearing conducted via Zoom by Ohio’s Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court in July, the now-19-year-old woman delivered an impact statement in which she accused the actor and musician of engaging in sexual contact with her during a backstage encounter in Cleveland when she was 15 years old, calling Bell “a monster and a danger to children.”

But Bell’s plea involved no charges related to physical contact. “It’s not me telling you that the claims are false,” the 35-year-old Bell says in his new video, “but the state of Ohio has proven the claims to be false. If these claims were remotely true, my situation would be very different. I would not be here at home with my wife and my son.”

At the July hearing, Bell’s attorney offered a similar argument, and noted that no evidence had been submitted to back up the accuser’s claims of nude photos exchanged. Attorney Ian Friedman also disputed the victim’s account of sexual relations both backstage and in the actor’s hotel room, noting that other adults had been present at all times.

During the sentencing hearing, Cuyahoga County Judge Timothy McCormick called the now-19-year-old accuser’s courtroom allegations “serious and disturbing” but added he “can’t lose focus on what was pled to.” The judge told Bell, “The fact of the matter is your position and celebrity status let you nurture this relationship. You were able to gain access to this child.”

Bell initially pleaded not guilty to charges but switched to a guilty plea in June on a felony charge of attempted child endangerment and a misdemeanor charge of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles. Bell received two years of probation and a suspended one-year jail sentence, along with 200 hours of community service.

“When I was presented with a plea deal because of the messages,” Bell says in the video, “I felt that it was the best way to get this over quickly and for everybody involved to be able to move on and for me to get back to doing what I love, and that’s making music for you.”

Bell also says that despite media reports, he never legally changed his name or moved to Mexico. “Don’t believe the media right off the bat,” he says at the video’s conclusion. “It’s a lot of clickbait. Do your own research and come to your own conclusions.”

 


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