Drake Bell's 2-year probation for child endangerment slammed: 'People get more for weed'
Former Nickelodeon star Drake Bell has been sentenced to two years probation and 200 hours of community service on two charges related to crimes involving a minor. The actor pleaded guilty to felony attempted child endangerment and misdemeanor disseminating matter harmful to juveniles on June 23. Bell, 35, received the sentencing on Monday, July 12. He is also prohibited from getting in contact with the victim.
During a virtual hearing at a Cleveland court on July 12, Bell's victim (now 19), spoke publicly for the first time. She called 'Drake and Josh' star "the epitome of evil" in her statement. She said Bell groomed her from the age of 12 before allegedly sexually abusing her when she was 15. "I chose to write this statement because I want justice to be served more than anything. The only time that the defendant has appeared in court in person was on June 3 for his arraignment, which was before the media found out about the case. He has appeared in court today over Zoom instead of appearing in person. This doesn't surprise me and shows what a coward he is, but I am not a coward," she said over Zoom.
The victim then said that the "pain" Bell allegedly caused her resulted in panic attacks and nightmares and that her parents have spent more than $7,000 for her therapy. She further alleged that Bell sent her photos of his genitalia. "He was calculating. He preyed on me and sexually abused me. He is a monster and a danger to children. Jared Drake Bell is a pedophile and that is his legacy," she concluded.
During the hearing, Bell's attorney, Ian Friedman, said in his statement that his client had "accepted responsibility in this case" via his plea. Friedman then disputed the victim's claims that she and Bell exchanged explicit photos, claiming there was no proof of the said allegation. Before receiving the sentencing, Bell said in a statement, "I accept this plea because my conduct was wrong. I'm sorry that the victim was harmed in any way, but that was obviously not my intention. 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."
The judge said during the hearing that Bell "did take advantage" of the victim as she didn't have "the emotional or mental maturity to properly engage" in their situation. "Your position and celebrity status enabled you to nurture this relationship. 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, I don't know (if you are)," the judge said.
Bell's attorney Friedman issued a statement after the sentencing that said, "Today's 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. As the court made clear, this plea was never about sexual misconduct or sexual relations with any person, let alone a minor. Sexual registration was not imposed as Mr Bell did not plead guilty to any such offense. Drake and his family are relieved to have this matter behind them. He looks forward to, once again, performing for all of his supportive fans around the world."
Statement on behalf of Drake Bell by Attorneys Ian Friedman and Madelyn Grant: pic.twitter.com/tYG7Rb7hhz— Ian Friedman (@IanNFriedman) July 12, 2021
'People serve 5-10 years for weed'
As soon as the news broke out, people flocked to Twitter expressing anger over a 'pedophile getting off easily' where 'folks serve years for just possession of weed'. One user tweeted, "Crazy how people can still serve 5-10 years for weed, but pedophiles seem to get off easy. Am I missing something?" Another commented, "Meanwhile, folks are facing years in prison for simply having weed in their possession." Another user tweeted, "The system is truly broken. Selling drugs to willing people will get you more time than diddling a minor. It makes you question who set the laws up like that."
One tweet read, "A famous white man getting a slap on the wrist? Not surprising at all." Another said, "2 yrs PROBATION!!! Sweet Jesus, there will never be justice for victims, will there?"
Crazy how people can still serve 5-10 years for weed, but pedophiles seem to get off easy. Am I missing something?— ⚡Vexx ⚡ (@VexxTheBeatsage) July 12, 2021
Meanwhile, folks are facing years in prison for simply having weed in their possession.— Phai Huynh🏁 (@phai_huynh) July 12, 2021
The system is truly broken. Selling drugs to willing people will get you more time than diddling a minor. It makes you question who set the laws up like that🤨— antisafe space for bleach rats (@BeatricetheGold) July 12, 2021
A famous white man getting a slap on the wrist? Not surprising at all— That REDACTED Guy #NWH (@REDACTEDSpider) July 12, 2021
2 yrs PROBATION!!! Sweet Jesus, there will never be justice for victims, will there?— Lady Free Love (@Smidget3D) July 12, 2021