Drake Bell speaks out after sentencing in child endangerment case: 'I make mistakes'
Former Nickelodeon star Drake Bell is speaking out for the first time since being sentenced to two years of probation for felony attempted endangering children and a misdemeanor charge of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles.
In a video posted to his Instagram, the 35-year-old told his followers that he wanted to take responsibility for his "reckless and irresponsible text messages." Bell also admitted, "I'm not perfect and I make mistakes."
In the video message, he said that "most of the news that you've heard recently is entirely false and wrong." In terms of his case, he stated "I didn't get arrested, I didn't go to jail."
He continues, "It's been a three-year thorough investigation into every false claim that's 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."
Giving his side of the story, Bell shared that although he stopped responding to a fan after learning their age, "this individual continued to come to shows, and paid for meet-and-greets, and all while I was unaware that this was the same person that I was communicating with online. And that's what I plead guilty to."
"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 disseminating of photographs or images or anything like that," added the actor and musician. "This is strictly over text messages. And 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 everyone involved to be able to move on, and for me to get back to doing what I love and that's making music for you."
He concluded his message with a thank you to the fans who stuck by him, and looked deeper into his case, and warned "don't believe the media right off the bat. It's all clickbait. Do your own research and come to your own conclusions."
During his sentencing hearing in July, Bell's victim spoke publicly for the first time with a statement that said: "He was calculating. He preyed on me and sexually abused me," alleging that he sent her sexually explicit photos when she was 15 years old. "He is a monster and a danger to children."
While Bell's lawyer pointed out that there was no evidence shown for the claims that he shared photos with her, the judge told Bell that he "did take advantage" of the victim as she did not have "the emotional or mental maturity to properly engage" in their situation.
"Your position and celebrity status enabled you to nurture this relationship," the judge told Bell. "You were able to gain access to this child and you were able to gain the trust of the child. So it's a two-edged sword, your position. I hope you truly are remorseful."
While the former Drake & Josh star revealed through the legal process that he's now married with a son, an ex-girlfriend also recently accused him of physical and verbal abuse. He has denied those allegations.