Actor Drake Bell has been sentenced to two years probation and 200 hours of community service after pleading guilty to one charge of attempted child endangerment and one charge of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles. The charges follow the former Nickelodeon star's arrest in Cleveland on June 3rd. Bell had pled not guilty to the charges but reversed his decision after a court appeared on June 23rd. Bell could have faced jail time for the charges. The charges against the Drake & Josh star concerned an online chat with a 15-year-old minor taking place in 2017 that was allegedly "sexual in nature."
According to reporting from local Fox affiliate WJW, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office stated the incident was reported to Canadian authorities one year after it took place. Canadian authorities then contacted Cleveland police, who conducted the investigation that led to charges being brought against Bell.
According to further reports about the investigation, the 35-year-old Bell established a relationship with the victim years before the incident. The victim attended one of Bell's concerts in Cleveland in December 2017. At the event, the Prosecutor's Office report states that "Bell violated his duty of care and, in doing so, created a risk of harm to the victim." Ahead of the concert, Bell reportedly sent social media messages to the victim that were inappropriate. The victim also alleged that Bell sexually assaulted her on two occasions, though no assault charges were brought against the actor.
During the video hearing, Bell's lawyer, Ian Friedman, said, "[Bell]'s conduct was not correct, it was not proper. But I have to be very clear. What the victim is claiming to have occured here -- not only am I saying that it did not happen, not only would Mr. Bell say that that did not happen, but the evidence in this case would suggest that it did not happen.
"We all know that this prosecutor's office would pursue child sex charges and go to great lengths, aggressively as they should, and we've seen it many times. If they felt that that was a provable case, I'm sure we would not be talking here today about an 'attempted child endangerment' (charge) and a 'disseminating matter harmful to a minor.'"
Bell is best known for playing Drake Parker in Drake & Josh from 2004 to 2007. Since then, Bell has done voice work, playing Spider-Man in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, Marvel Heroes, Avengers Assemble, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., and Ultimate Spider-Man. He also starred in the live-action The Fairly OddParents movies. There had been rumors of a possible Josh & Drake revival, but nothing official.