Drake Bell Speaks Out on Child Endangerment Charges: ‘I Owe You an Explanation’
Actor Drake Bell, 35, took to Instagram to address his guilty plea to child endangerment charges.
Over the summer, Bell was sentenced to two years of probation and 200 hours of community service after pleading guilty to attempted endangering of a child and disseminating matter harmful to juveniles.
The “Drake & Josh” alum started the video by stating, "Most of the news you've heard recently is entirely false and wrong. I feel that you deserve, and I owe you, an explanation.”
Bell goes on to debunk claims he changed his name or moved to Mexico, and added, “I didn't get arrested, I didn't go to jail."
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Drake, real name Jared Drake Bell, then addressed the charges, saying, "I know that this has moved very quickly for you, but for me, it's been a three-year, thorough investigation into every false claim that has been made. And it's not me telling you that the claims are false, 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. But that being said, I am not perfect, and I make mistakes."
He stated, “I responded to a fan whose age I didn’t know, yet when I became aware of their age all conversation and communication stopped.”
He explained, "This individual continued to come to shows and pay for meet-and-greets, all while I was unaware that this was the same person I was communicating with online, and that's what I pled guilty to. It was reckless and irresponsible text messages. I want to make clear there were no sexual images, nothing physical between me and this individual."
As for why he took the deal, he said, "When I was presented with a plea deal, because of the messages, I felt that this was the best way to get this over quickly, and for everyone involved to be able to move on. And for me to get back to doing what I love, and that is making music for you."
At Bell’s sentencing in July, the victim spoke out, claiming that he sent photos of his genitalia to her. She stated, “He was calculating. He preyed on me and sexually abused me. He is a monster and a danger to children… Jared Drake Bell is a pedophile and that is his legacy." Read her full statement here.
Bell’s lawyer Ian Friedman was quick to dispute the victim’s claim that explicit photos were exchanged between her and Bell.
In his own statement, Bell told the judge via Zoom, “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."
In response to his statement, the judge declared that Bell “did take advantage” of the victim, who didn’t have “the emotional or mental maturity to properly engage.” The judge added, “Your position and celebrity status enabled you to nurture this relationship. 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]."
Following the sentencing, Bell’s lawyer said, “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,” his legal team continued. “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."