Drake Bell will avoid jail time in his child endangerment case, as he was sentenced to two years probation and 200 hours of community service in a virtual hearing at a Cleveland court on Monday.
Bell, best-known for his former starring role in Nickelodeon’s Drake & Josh, pleaded guilty to the charges of attempted child endangerment, a fourth-degree felony, and a misdemeanor charge of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles on June 23. In addition to the probation and community service, Bell is prohibited from contacting the victim.
The victim, who is now 19, spoke out publicly for the first time during the hearing. She called Bell “the epitome of evil” and stated that he had been grooming her since she was 12 years old before allegedly sexually abusing her in 2017.
“He was calculating. He preyed on me and sexually abused me,” she said regarding the alleged photos Bell sent her of his genitalia when she was 15. “He is a monster and a danger to children… Jared Drake Bell is a pedophile and that is his legacy.”
She also said that she has endured emotional and psychological issues following her communications with Bell, and that her parents have spent over $7,000 on therapy for her.
Bell and his attorney Ian Friedman have continuously denied the allegations of explicit photos being exchanged, but said Bell “accepted responsibility in this case” through his guilty plea. Originally, Bell pleaded not guilty to the child endangerment charges following his arrest, but later agreed to plead guilty to both charges he was sentenced on.
Bell also gave a statement before the sentencing:
“I accept this plea because my conduct was wrong. 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. And again, I just want to apologize to her and anyone else who may have been affected by my actions.”
The judge concluded with the sentencing and stated that the victim did not have “the emotional or mental maturity to properly engage” in the relationship at the time of the incident.
“Your position and celebrity status enabled you to nurture this relationship,” the judge said. “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].”
After the sentencing, Friedman posted a statement on Twitter:
“Today’s plea and sentence reflect conduct for which Mr. Bell did accept responsibility. 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. Sexual registration was not imposed as Mr. Bell did not plead guilty to any such offense. Drake and his family are relieved to have this matter behind them. He looks forward to, once again, performing for all of his supportive fans around the world.”
Following his guilty plea on June 23, Bell took to Twitter to confirm rumors that he has a wife and son on June 29.
“In response to various rumors that are incorrect, I have been married for almost 3 years, and we are blessed to be the parents of a wonderful son. Thank you very much to all my fans around the world for your good wishes,” he wrote in Spanish.
Previously, Bell was accused of physical and verbal abuse by his ex-girlfriend Melissa Lingafelt. He has denied those allegations.
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