An Ohio judge sentenced former Nickelodeon television star Drake Bell on Monday to two years of probation for child endangerment charges after the female victim who met him online and attended one of his concerts accused the actor of “grooming” her since she was 12.
Bell was also sentenced in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court by Judge Timothy McCormick to 200 hours of community service and have no contact with the victim.
The sentencing hearing began with a statement from the female victim.
“The pain that the defendant has caused me is indescribable, and it worsens every day,” the woman, now 19, said. “Being used by somebody who meant the world to me has left me feeling more hurt than I have ever been before.”
In her statement Monday, the woman accused the actor of "grooming" her since she was 12, sending her graphic photos and engaging in sexual misconduct in two separate incidents — all of which Bell’s lawyer denied.
“My life hasn’t been the same since I was 15. I think about these crimes every single day. I feel like I’m in a constant dark place. Sometimes I wish I could disappear so I can forget about what happened,” the woman added.
She concluded: “Jared Drake Bell is a pedophile, and that is his legacy.”
Bell, whose real first name is Jared, pleaded guilty via Zoom to felony attempted child endangerment and a misdemeanor charge of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles in June. The 35-year-old actor initially pleaded not guilty to the charges, but explained his decision to accept the plea deal during the sentencing hearing Monday.
“Today I accept this plea because my conduct was wrong. I’m sorry that the victim was harmed in any way — that was obviously not my intention,” Bell said in a brief statement. “I have taken this matter very, very seriously, and again I just want to apologize to her and anyone else who may have been affected by my actions.”
Ian Friedman, Bell's lawyer, told NBC News in a statement Monday that his guilty plea and sentence "reflect conduct for which Mr. Bell did accept responsibility."
"The victim’s allegations that went beyond that which all parties agreed, not only lack supporting evidence but are contradicted by the facts learned through extensive investigation," he said. "As the court made clear, this plea was never about sexual misconduct or sexual relations with any person, let alone a minor.”
A 15-year-old girl from Canada filed a report at her home police department describing an incident between her and Bell in Cleveland in December 2017, according to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office.
After investigating, Cleveland police determined that the teen had "established a relationship with Bell several years prior [and] attended his concert in December 2017."
"While there, Bell violated his duty of care and, in doing so, created a risk of harm to the victim," the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office said. Investigators also said that Bell sent the teen "inappropriate social media messages."
Bell, who is also a singer, was the star of "Drake and Josh," a Nickelodeon TV show about teen brothers that debuted in January 2004.
Last August, the actor was accused of dating abuse by musician Jimi Ono in a TikTok video.
Bell denied the abuse allegations and said as his and Ono's relationship ended, they "both called each other terrible names, as often happens when couples are breaking up."
CORRECTION (July 12, 2021, 2:47 p.m.): A previous version of this article misstated a condition of Bell's sentence. He does not have to register as a sex offender.