AceShowbiz - Drake Bell has addressed his fans after he was sentenced in July (21) following his guilty plea to child endangerment charges.
On Thursday (16Sep21) the 35-year-old "Drake & Josh" star posted a video to Instagram to tell fans he owes them "an explanation," months after he was sentenced to two years of probation and 200 hours of community service in Cleveland court.
Bell, whose full name is Jared Drake Bell, began his video by shooting down previous reports on social media alleging he had changed his name to Drake Campana and taken up residence in Mexico. His Instagram bio currently shows his name as Drake Campana.
"Most of the news you've heard recently is entirely false and wrong," he said in the footage. "I feel that you deserve, and I owe you, an explanation..."
He continued, "I know that this has moved very quickly for you, but for me, it's been a three-year, through investigation into every false claim that has been made. And, it's not me telling you that the claims are false, but the state of Ohio has proven the 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. But that being said, I am not perfect, and I make mistakes."
Bell explained he responded to a fan without knowing their age and, when he learned their age, he ceased communication with the person.
"This individual continued to come to shows and pay for meet and greets, all while I was unaware that this was the same person I was communicating with online, and that's what I plead guilty to," he continued. "It was reckless and irresponsible text messages. I want to make clear there were no sexual images, nothing physical between me and this individual."
Bell said the interactions took place over texts and that he wasn't charged with doing "anything physical" or disseminating any images.
"When I was presented with a plea deal, because of the messages, I felt that this was the best way to get this over quickly, and for everyone involved to be able to move on," the star added. "And for me to get back to doing what I love, and that is making music for you."
In June, Bell pleaded guilty on Zoom to attempted child endangerment, a fourth-degree felony, and disseminating matter harmful to juveniles, a first-degree misdemeanor. The next month he was ordered to serve two years of probation and a suspended one-year jail sentence for attempted child endangerment and disseminating matter harmful to juveniles.
He appeared via Zoom in Ohio's Cuyahoga County Common Pleas courtroom before Judge Timothy McCormick.
His now-19-year-old accuser also appeared via Zoom and, during her victim impact statement, she added allegations of sexual contact.
Bell spoke briefly in court and stated, "I just want to say today I accept this plea because my conduct was wrong. I have taken this matter very, very seriously... I just want to apologise to her and anyone else who may have been affected by my actions."
His attorney also pointed out that the victim's impact statement included serious allegations that were not listed among her initial claims, adding his client had not been charged.
The judge agreed, sentencing Bell to one count of attempted child endangering and one count of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles.
The charges date back to an incident on 1 December 2017 when Bell was scheduled to perform at a club in Cleveland. The then-31-year-old was reportedly caught engaging in an inappropriate chat with the unidentified victim.