Drake Bell, former Nickelodeon child star of Drake & Josh and The Amanda Show, has been sentenced after he pleaded guilty to attempted child endangerment and disseminating matter harmful to juveniles.
Per the ABC, the 35-year-old actor narrowly missed jail time, and was sentenced to two years’ probation and 200 hours of community service in an Ohio court on Monday.
The sentence stems from an incident where he sent inappropriate messages to a 15-year-old girl in 2017, when he was 31.
Ahead of his sentence being handed down, the woman addressed the court and talked about how much his actions had affected her life. She claimed he began grooming her by talking to her online when she was 12, and after she turned 15 their conversations became “blatantly sexual”.
She said this turn in conversation made her feel uncomfortable and trapped, because she “idolised” Bell, and she had initially felt protected by him.
The woman, who is now 19, also said that explicit photos were shared between herself and Bell, and on several occasions he engaged in sexual conduct with her while she was still underage.
Bell’s lawyer, Ian Fridman, disputed some of the woman’s claims, saying that no explicit images existed, nor did Bell engage in sexual contact with her. These allegations were not tested in court, and Judge Timothy McCormick said he “can’t lose focus on what was pled to”.
Appearing by Zoom, Bell said that he accepted the plea because his conduct was wrong.
“I’m sorry that the victim was harmed, because that was not my intention,” Bell said.
“I have taken this matter very, very seriously, and again I just want to apologise to her and anyone else who may have been affected by my actions.”
Before handing down his sentencing, Judge McCormick noted that Bell took advantage of the woman and gained her trust, by using his position and celebrity status to nurture the relationship.
Help is available.
If you require immediate assistance, please call 000.
If you’d like to speak to someone about sexual violence, please call the 1800 Respect hotline on 1800 737 732 or chat online.
Under 25? You can reach Kids Helpline at 1800 55 1800 or chat online.