Drake Bell pleads guilty to child endangerment charges in Cleveland


Drake Bell, the former star of the popular Nickelodeon show Drake & Josh, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to charges relating to a girl who met him online and attended one of his concerts in Cleveland in 2017, when she was 15.

Jared (Drake) Bell, 34, of West Hollywood, California, pleaded guilty via Zoom to felony attempted child endangerment and a misdemeanor charge of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles.

Sentencing is scheduled for July 12 in Cleveland.

Defence lawyer Ian Friedman said Wednesday that he could not comment on the case but said it will be revealed at sentencing “why Mr. Bell chose to enter today’s plea.”

Victim contacted Toronto police

Bell had initially pleaded not guilty to the charges earlier this month. Tyler Sinclair, a spokesperson for the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office, said at the time that the girl contacted Toronto police in October 2018. Toronto authorities then contacted Cleveland police, prompting an investigation.

The attempted endangering children charge relates to the concert, Sinclair said, where Bell “violated his duty of care” and created a risk of harm to the victim. Sinclair didn’t elaborate further.

Bell and the girl had “developed a relationship” online several years prior to the concert, Sinclair said. The disseminating harmful material charge concerns Bell having sent the girl “inappropriate social media messages,” Sinclair said.

Drake Bell, centre, and the cast of Drake & Josh accept the award for favourite television show at the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards, April 1, 2006. Bell appeared in the show from its premiere in 2004 to its end in 2007 (Chris Polk/FilmMagic/Getty Images)

The sentencing range is probation to two years in prison. The girl, who is now an adult, will be allowed to give a victim impact statement at the sentencing.

Bell, also a singer, began acting as a child, but was catapulted to stardom as a teen with Nickelodeon’s The Amanda Show and later Drake & Josh, which debuted on the channel in January 2004. The final episode aired in September 2007. Bell and co-star Josh Peck also starred in two Drake & Josh movies.

Read more at CBC.ca