Drake and Josh star Drake Bell sentenced on child endangerment charge

Drake Bell has been sentenced to two years of probation to charges relating to a teenager whom he met online and who attended one of his 2017 concerts in Cleveland when she was 15 (AP)
2:21am, Tue 13 Jul 2021
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Drake Bell, the former star of Drake and Josh, has been sentenced to two years’ probation on child endangerment charges.

The 35-year-old pleaded guilty to the charges relating to a girl who met him online and accused him of sexual contact after she attended his concert when she was 15.

Bell, of West Hollywood, California, also admitted a misdemeanour charge of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles.

Cuyahoga County Judge Timothy McCormick is allowing Bell to serve probation and 200 hours of community service in California.

Bell, via Zoom, spoke briefly before sentencing.

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

“I accept this plea because my conduct was wrong,” he said. “I’m sorry the victim was harmed. It was not my intention.”

The victim, who is 19, spoke at length about the damage Bell has done to her life, saying he began grooming her when she was 12.

She said she initially felt loved and protected by him during online chats and that his messages became “blatantly sexual” after she turned 15.

She said his remarks made her feel uncomfortable, but she felt trapped because she “idolised” Bell.

“I was definitely one of his biggest fans,” said the woman, who allowed her face to appear on Zoom. “I would have done anything for him.”

The woman said she and Bell exchanged explicit photos online and that he engaged in sexual conduct with her on several occasions, including at the concert venue in Cleveland and at a hotel.

She also called Bell a “paedophile” and a “coward”.

Bell’s lawyer, Ian Friedman, disputed those claims on Monday.

He said there were no explicit photos or sexual contact between Bell and the victim and the inappropriate conduct that did occur were reflected in the charges Bell pleaded to last month.

Mr Friedman did not detail the inappropriate conduct Bell was acknowledging.

Mr McCormick, before delivering Bell’s sentence, said he heard “a lot of serious and disturbing allegations” during Monday’s hearing, but added that he “can’t lose focus on what was pled to”.

“The fact of the matter is your position and celebrity status let you nurture this relationship,” he said. “You were able to gain access to this child.”

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