Jared Drake Bell has pleaded guilty to crimes involving a minor. He faces a maximum sentence of up to two years in prison.
Bell, who starred on Nickelodeon's Drake & Josh from 2004 to 2007, initially pleaded not guilty to two charges during a court appearance earlier this month. The child actor changed his plea during a virtual pretrial hearing on Wednesday as it's believed he reached a deal with prosecutors. The 34-year-old's defense attorney told the Associated Press it will be revealed at sentencing "why Mr. Bell chose to enter today's plea."
The accusations against Bell stem from interactions he had with a teenager several years ago.
Bell pleaded guilty to felony attempted child endangerment, which carries a maximum sentence of anywhere between six to 18 months in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000. The entertainer also pleaded guilty of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles, which carries a sentence of up to six months in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
A spokesperson for the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office said an incident between Bell and a 15-year-old occurred on Dec. 1, 2017, when he was playing a concert in Cleveland. The girl, who is now an adult, contacted Toronto police in October 2018. Authorities then alerted Cleveland police and an investigation was launched.
The attempted endangering children charge relates to that event where Bell "violated his duty of care" and created a risk of harm to the victim, per the AP. Bell and the teenager "developed a relationship" online years prior to the concert, spokesperson Tyler Sinclair added. The disseminating harmful material charge concerns "inappropriate social media messages" Bell sent.
Sentencing is scheduled for July 12 in Cleveland. The girl will be allowed to give a victim impact statement, although it's unclear if she will.
Bell has been engulfed in scandal before.
Last year, the actor denied ex-girlfriend Melissa Lingafelt's claims she was physically and verbally abused. They dated in 2006 for about two years.
In 2009, Bell was arrested for driving under the influence. In 2016, he was sentenced to 96 hours in jail for his second DUI conviction.
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