Drake Bell pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted endangering children and disseminating matter harmful to juveniles on Wednesday, June 23, Us Weekly can confirm.
The former Nickelodeon star, 34, was arraigned earlier this month in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, after being indicted on May 21. On June 3, he pleaded not guilty to both charges against him and was released from custody on a $2,500 bond.
During his pretrial hearing on Wednesday, however, he pleaded guilty to attempted endangering children, which is a fourth-degree felony, and disseminating matter harmful to juveniles, which is a first-degree misdemeanor. The singer faces up to 18 months in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for Monday, July 12.
“All questions will be answered at sentencing, including why Mr. Bell chose to enter today’s plea,” Ian Friedman, a lawyer for the actor, told Us in a statement.
According to court documents, the alleged incident took place on December 1, 2017, when the Drake & Josh alum was in Cleveland for a performance.
“In October 2018, the female juvenile victim, 15, filed a report with her local police department in Canada regarding an incident that occurred between her and Jared Bell, 34, the previous year at a Cleveland nightclub on Old River Road in the city’s East Bank of The Flats district,” Tyler Sinclair, spokesman for the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office, said in a statement earlier this month.
“Canadian authorities contacted the Cleveland Division of Police who conducted a subsequent investigation. That investigation revealed that the victim, who had established a relationship with Bell several years prior, attended his concert in December 2017,” Sinclair’s statement continued. “While there, Bell violated his duty of care and, in doing so, created a risk of harm to the victim. The investigation also revealed that months leading up to the concert, Bell sent the victim inappropriate social media messages.”
The California native became a star of children’s TV when he played Drake Parker in the Nickelodeon show Drake & Josh, which aired from 2004 to 2007. In 2019, he began releasing music in Spanish using the name Drake Campana. (“Campana” means “bell” in Spanish.) He also began spending time in Mexico and seems to have obtained a Mexican ID while in the country.
While some fans theorized that the move was simply an attempt to appeal to his Latin American audience, others speculated that it was designed to distract from allegations made against him by his ex-girlfriend, Melissa Lingafelt. The model, 31, claimed in August 2020 that Bell had physically and verbally abused her during their relationship.
“I never abused my ex-girlfriend or did so many of the other things Melissa falsely claimed on her TikTok video,” Bell said in a statement to Variety in response to Lingafelt’s claims. “As our relationship ended — more than a decade ago — we, unfortunately, both called each other terrible names, as often happens when couples are breaking up. But that is it.”
With reporting by Marjorie Hernandez