Drake Bell Photograph:( Twitter )
Drake Bell shared a video on his Instagram handle, clarifying the claims that have been revolving around him this past year before explaining the reason behind his guilty plea.
Nickelodeon star Drake Bell, who was sentenced to two years of probation and community service in July of 2021 after pleading guilty to charges related to his online conduct with an underaged fan, has spoken about the details of his case.
He shared a video on his Instagram handle, clarifying the claims that have been revolving around him this past year before explaining the reason behind his guilty plea.
Through the video, Bell revealed that he has neither changed his last name or moved to Mexico. He also said that he has not become a resident or citizen of Mexico regardless of what the rumour mill says.
Talking about his case, Bell said, "... (The Case) moved very quickly for you, but for me, it's been a three-year, thorough investigation into every false claim that has been made."
"It's not me telling you that the claims are false, but the state of Ohio has proven claims to be false. If these claims were remotely true, my situation would be very different. I would not be here at home with my wife and my son," he continued.
As per the Hollywood Reporter, in July, Drake Bell was sentenced to two years of probation and 200 hours of community service on child endangerment charges for his alleged conduct with a young fan, whom he met online and then in person, which reportedly went on for years.
In October of 2018, Cleveland authorities say, the victim--who was 19 at the time of Bell's sentencing--contacted the Toronto Police, who in turn, shared their findings pertaining to the case that prompted in further investigation.
The victim stated that Bell began contacting her through an online chat platform when she was 12, and their communications escalated to exchanges that turned "blatantly sexual" by the time she was 15, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The victim, who called Bell a 'pedophile' during his July hearing in Cleveland, said that the two had exchanged sexually charged photos and engaged in sexual conduct with her many times, including at a 2017 concert venue in Cleveland and also at a hotel.
In his video, Bell stated that he is 'not perfect' and 'made mistakes' and called his behaviour 'reckless and irresponsible'. But, he disputed that he had maintained communication with the victim over a long period of time or had knowledge of who she was during their in-person encounters.
Bell said, "I responded to a fan whose age I didn't know. When I became aware of their age, all conversation and communication stopped. This individual continued to come to shows and pay for meet-and-greets, and although I was unaware that this was the same person I was communicating with online, that's what I pled guilty to."
Initially, Bell had pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him but eventually entered a plea deal with the prosecutors. He was convicted in June of felony attempted child endangerment, with a misdemeanour charge of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles.
The attempted endangerment charge is related to the concert, where Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office spokesperson Tyler Sinclair stated Bell 'violated his duty of care' and put the victim in harm's way. The disseminating matter charge was about his 'inappropriate social media messages', as per Sinclair.
"I want to make clear that there were no sexual images, nothing physical between me and this individual. I was not charged with anything physical. I was not charged with the disseminating of photographs or images or anything like that. This is strictly over text messages," Bell said in his video.
"When I was presented with a plea deal because of the messages, I felt that it was the best way to get this over quickly and for everybody involved to be able to move on and for me to get back to doing what I love," he further added.
Drake Bell concluded his video message by thanking fans for doing their own research and standing by him.
Check out the video here: