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Former Nickelodeon star and singer Drake Bell has admitted to charges of endangering a child during a 2017 incident involving a 15-year-old girl.
Bell, 34, pleaded guilty on Wednesday during a Cleveland pretrial, News5 Cleveland reports.
Cleveland Police say that Bell fostered a relationship with the girl several years before the 2017 Cleveland concert, sending her inappropriate texts for months before the event. Then, at the concert, prosecutors say that Bell — then 31 years old — had "violated his duty of care and, in doing so, created a risk of harm to the victim,” local station WJW reported.
The teen filed a police report in Canada, where she lived, in 2018. Cleveland police later launched the investigation into the allegations.
Bell, who lives in West Hollywood, California had originally pleaded not guilty, but on Wednesday he changed his plea to admit attempted endangering of a child, a fourth-degree felony, and to disseminating matter harmful to juveniles, a first-degree misdemeanor. He was arrested earlier this month and released on bond.
"My understanding is there's been a plea agreement reached where the defendant will plead guilty to count one attempted endangering children, a felony in the fourth degree [and] plead guilty to count two: disseminating matter harmful to juveniles, a misdemeanor the first degree," the judge stated in court this week.
The attempted endangering children charge carries a sentence of up to 18 months in prison.
Bell, born Jared 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.
Bell's lawyer Ian Friedman told Oxygen.com on Wednesday that "all questions will be answered at sentencing, including why Mr. Bell chose to enter today’s plea.”
The disgraced star is expected to be sentenced on July 12.
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