The former star of the Nickelodeon series “Drake & Josh” had pleaded guilty to two charges related to a girl he met online. She attended one of his concerts in 2017.
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Jared Drake Bell, a former star of the Nickelodeon series “Drake & Josh,” was sentenced on Monday to two years of probation after pleading guilty to two charges against him relating to a girl he had met online and who attended one of his concerts in Cleveland in 2017.
“Your position and celebrity status enabled you to nurture this relationship,” Judge Timothy McCormick said at the end of an hourlong virtual sentencing hearing in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court on Monday, in which both Mr. Bell, 35, and his victim appeared on camera. “You were able to gain access to this child. You were able to gain the trust of this child. I hope you truly are remorseful; I don’t know.”
Mr. Bell, of West Hollywood, Calif., who was charged in June with attempted child endangerment, a felony, and disseminating material harmful to children, a misdemeanor, will have to register as a sex offender. He will also have to perform 200 hours of community service in California and was ordered to have no contact with the victim.
Mr. Bell remained stoic as the verdict was read. He had agreed to a plea deal at a virtual court hearing on June 23 after initially pleading not guilty to both charges.
“Your honor, I just want to say today that I accept this plea because my conduct was wrong,” said Mr. Bell, who appeared in a dark suit and patterned tie. “I’m sorry that the victim is harmed in any way — 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 a statement on Monday, Mr. Bell’s lawyer, Ian N. Friedman, said: “Drake and his family are relieved and grateful to have this matter behind them. He looks forward to, once again, performing for all of his supportive fans around the world.”
According to prosecutors, the charges stem from an incident at a concert in Cleveland on Dec. 1, 2017. Mr. Bell, who is also known as Drake Campana, had posted a tweet saying that he had a show scheduled at the Odeon Concert Club there on that date.
Prosecutors said that Mr. Bell engaged in a conversation with a 15-year-old girl that was at times sexual in nature. An investigation by the Cleveland Police Department also revealed that Mr. Bell had sent the girl inappropriate social media messages in the months before the show, the prosecutors said.
Tyler Sinclair, a spokesman for the Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office, said Mr. Bell “violated his duty of care” at the concert. In a virtual court appearance on Monday, the victim, who is now an adult, also said Mr. Bell had forced her to perform sexual acts backstage both at the concert and at a hotel in Cleveland.
Mr. Bell’s lawyer denied that Mr. Bell had asked the girl to perform sexual acts.
“His conduct was not correct; it was not proper for what he did,” Mr. Friedman said. “But what the victim is claiming to have occurred 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 it did not happen.”
In a virtual court appearance on Monday, the victim said she had maintained a relationship with Mr. Bell since she was 12 years old.
“He was a hero to me,” she said. “I would have done anything for him.”
She said the messages she reported receiving when she was 15 were “blatantly sexual.”
“The pain that the defendant has caused me is indescribable, and it worsens every day,” the woman said. “Being used by somebody who meant the world to me has left me feeling more hurt than I have ever been before.”
“He is a monster and a danger to children,” she added. “He is sorry he’s finally been caught. He committed these crimes with pride.”
The victim, who is Canadian, filed a police report with Canadian authorities in 2018, who then contacted Cleveland law enforcement.
Mr. Freidman said the victim became upset and filed the report when Mr. Bell became engaged to the woman who is now his wife. He argued that Mr. Bell had already been punished for his crimes by loss of employment.
The sentencing range was probation to two years in prison.
Mr. Bell began his career as a child actor, with his breakthrough performance coming in “The Amanda Show,” a live-action sketch comedy and variety show created by Dan Schneider and starring Amanda Bynes that aired on Nickelodeon from 1999 to 2002.
“Drake & Josh,” the show for which he is most known, was also created by Mr. Schneider. It aired for four seasons on Nickelodeon from 2004 to 2007. Mr. Bell played one half of a pair of stepbrothers (the other was played by Josh Peck) who lived together despite having opposite personalities.
In the years since, Mr. Bell has started a music career and toured in support of several albums.