CONTENT WARNING: The following article discusses sexual abuse.
Actor and musician Drake Bell has pleaded guilty to charges of attempted child endangerment and disseminating matter harmful to juveniles.
Bell, known most widely to audiences from the Nickelodeon series Drake & Josh, appeared in an Ohio court via Zoom, where the court heard testimony from the victim (now 19 years old).
According to the woman, Bell had begun grooming her from the age of 12 and from the age of 15, their online relationship became ‘blatantly sexual’, leading her to feel uncomfortable with the situation because she was such a fan of the actor.
Calling Bell a ‘paedophile’ and a ‘coward’, the woman alleged that she and Bell exchanged explicit photos and he engaged in sexual conduct with her on numerous occasions while she was underage.
Though Bell pleaded guilty to the charges, some of the victim’s claims had been disputed by his legal team, who said there had been no sexual contact or images exchanged.
“I accept this plea because my conduct was wrong,” Bell said.
“I’m sorry the victim was harmed. It was not my intention.”
The 35 year old will not serve jail time, but instead has been sentenced to two years’ probation and 200 hours of community service.
If you need assistance, 1800 RESPECT – the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service — can be reached on 1800 737 732.
For help or information regarding mental health, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.
Incidents involving solicitation of child exploitation material can be reported to police via 000.
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