Hollywood star Drake Bell, best known for his roles in Nickelodeon’s Drake & Josh and Disney’s Ultimate Spider-Man, has been sentenced to two years probation after pleading guilty to child endangerment charges.
Fox News 8 first broke the news, revealing that the actor had been arrested and charged for “allegedly engaged in an inappropriate chat with [an underage girl] that, at times, was sexual in nature.”
The report also revealed that the alleged victim, a Canadian fan, was only 15 years old when Bell’s supposed misconduct took place in 2017. She first reported the incident to her local Canadian police department in October of 2018.
On the 25th of June, 2021, the former Nickelodeon star plead guilty to the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, at which time it was revealed that he could be facing “up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine for the felony charge, and up to six months in county jail and a $1,000 fine for the misdemeanor.”
Now, People Magazine reports that, following a July 12th virtual appearance in a Cleveland county court, Bell was sentenced to “two years probation after pleading guilty to criminal charges involving a minor.”
The sentencing hearing also saw the victim, now 19, offer her first public statements on the situation, reading aloud a statement via Zoom in which called the former Nickelodeon star “the epitome of evil.”
Speaking to the court, the victim stated, “I chose to write this statement because I want justice to be served more than anything.”
“The only time that the defendant has appeared in court in person was on June 3 for his arraignment, which was before the media found out about the case,” she explained. “He has appeared in court today over Zoom instead of appearing in person. This doesn’t surprise me and shows what a coward he is, but I am not a coward.”
The unnamed accuser went on to offer some details about both her abuse at the hands of the Drake & Josh actor and its lasting effects on her mental health, noting that her family’s allegedly had to spend over $7,000 in therapy to help her cope with the trauma of the event.
“He was calculating,” she recalled. “He preyed on me and sexually abused me. He is a monster and a danger to children.” Claiming that Bell allegedly sent her unsolicited photos of his genitalia, the victim concluded, “Jared Drake Bell is a pedophile and that is his legacy.”
In an official statement issued by Bell’s lawyers, Ian Friedman and Madelyn Grant, via the former’s Twitter on his behalf, the actor and his legal team asserted that though “today’s plea and sentence reflect conduct for which Mr. Bell did accept responsibility”, they still maintained that “the victim’s allegations that went beyond that which all parties agreed, not only lack supporting evidence but are contradicted by the facts learned through extensive investigation.”
“As the court made clear, this plea was never about sexual misconduct or sexual relations with any person, let alone a minor,” the statement continued “Sexual registration was not imposed as Mr. Bell did not plead guilty to any such offense. Drake and his family are relieved and grateful to have this matter behind them.”
In conclusion, Friedman and Grant noted that Bell “looks forward to, once again, performing for all of his supportive fans around the world.”
In a separate statement of his own, Bell apologised to the both the victim and anyone affected by the event.
“I accept this plea because my conduct was wrong,” wrote Bell. “I’m sorry that the victim was harmed in any way, but that was obviously not my intention. I have taken this matter very, very seriously.”
He continued, “And again, I just want to apologize to her and anyone else who may have been affected by my actions.”
People Magazine also reported that the judge had declared that Bell “did take advantage” of the victim, and in his judgement expressed that she didn’t have “the emotional or mental maturity to properly engage” in their situation.
“Your position and celebrity status enabled you to nurture this relationship,” said the judge. “You were able to gain access to this child and you were able to gain the trust of the child. So it’s a two-edged sword, your position. I hope you truly are remorseful, I don’t know [if you are].”
Bell’s sentence not only includes the aforementioned two years of probation, but will also require him to also perform a total of 200 hours of community service. In addition, Bell has also been prohibited from contacting the victim.
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