Drake Bell pleads guilty to felony endangerment charge

Mark Gillispie

CLEVELAND (AP) — Former star of the popular Nickelodeon show Drake & Josh Drake Bell 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 misdemeanour charge of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles. Sentencing is scheduled for July 12 in Cleveland.

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

Bell had initially pleaded not guilty to the charges earlier this month. Spokesperson for the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office Tyler Sinclair 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.

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. Sinclair declined to comment about the case on Wednesday.

Drake Bell. PHOTO: AP