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A woman who was victimized by Drake Bell when she was 15-years-old gave powerful testimony as the former Nickelodeon star and singer was sentenced today.
Jared “Drake” Bell, 34, pleaded guilty last month to charges of endangering a child during a 2017 incident involving the woman, now 19. On Monday, a judge sentenced him to two years of probation on the attempted child endangering charge and six months for disseminating matter harmful to juveniles, WJW in Cleveland reports. The sentences will run concurrently.
But before he was sentenced on Monday, his teen victim spoke via Zoom.
“He was a hero to me,” the survivor, who said it was okay for her face to be shown in court, testified. “I would have done anything for him.”
She said that she met Bell through her aunt when she was 12 and was “one of his biggest fans.”
“He was such a big part of my childhood and in turn, he ruined my life,” she said, calling Bell a “monster” and “a danger to children.”
The survivor said the messages became “blatantly sexual” when she turned 15. That same year, she claimed that Bell engaged in sexual acts with her at a Cleveland concert. He has not been convicted of any sexual crimes.
“I deserved better than to be used for his sick desires,” she said. “Jared Drake Bell is a pedophile and that is his legacy.”
The teen filed a police report in Canada, where she lived, in 2018. Cleveland police later launched the investigation into the allegations. She also alleged that Bell sexually abused her in Illinois in the backseat of a car while her aunt was driving; she said that police in Illinois told her they'd only charge him if he wasn't charged with crimes in Ohio.
Bell’s attorneys claimed he didn’t realize how young the teen was at the time. Furthermore, they claimed that the victim didn’t claim misconduct until she learned about Bell’s fiancée. Through his lawyers, Bell denied many of the allegations brought forth through the survivor’s testimony.
“Today’s plea and sentence reflect conduct for which Mr. Bell did accept responsibility," his lawyers Ian Friedman and Madelyn Grant said in a statement provided to Oxygen.com on Monday. "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. Sexual registration was not imposed as Mr. Bell did not plead guilty to any such offense. 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.”
Bell himself spoke in court on Monday, stating, “My conduct was wrong. I’m sorry the victim was harmed in any way, but that was not my intention. I want to apologize to her.”
Bell starred in Nickelodeon’s “Drake and Josh,” which ran from 2004 to 2007. Following the show’s conclusion, Bell has continued acting and voiceover work and he has released several albums. His ex-girlfriend Melissa Lingafelt accused him last year of being verbally and physically abusive during their relationship. He denied the claims.
Late last month, following Bell's guilty plea, he announced that he is married to Janet Von Schmeling and is a father.
“In response to various rumors that are incorrect, I have been married for almost 3 years, and we are blessed to be the parents of a wonderful son,” Bell tweeted. “Thank you very much to all my fans around the world for your good wishes.”
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