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Two months after he was sentenced to two years probation for crimes against a child, actor Drake Bell is telling fans via his Instagram account that most of the news they've heard about him lately is "entirely false and wrong."
In addition to the time on probation, Bell, who starred in Nickelodeon's Drake and Josh from 2004 to 2007, was sentenced to 200 hours of community service in July for his interactions with an underage fan. That was after the 35-year-old had pleaded guilty to one count of child endangerment and one count of disseminating matter harmful to a juvenile. He had initially pleaded not guilty to the charges, but he switched after reaching a plea deal.
The fan, who was 19 when she delivered a victim's impact statement at sentencing, said that Bell sexually assaulted her multiple times when she was 15. She said that he had groomed her over text messages for years and had forced her to perform sexual acts on him multiple times.
Bell seemed to flatly deny that in his statement.
"A lot of the news that you've been hearing, most of the news that you've hard recently, is entirely false and wrong, and I feel that you deserve and I owe you an explanation," he began. Bell then said he had not changed his name to Drake Campana, which is the handle that he now uses on social media.
Then he spoke directly to his legal case.
"I know that this has moved very quickly for you, but for me it's been a three-year thorough investigation into every false claim that has 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," Bell said. "If these claims were remotely true, my situation would be very different, and I would not be here at home with my wife and my son. But that being said, I'm not perfect, and I made mistakes. I responded to a fan whose age I didn't know … yet when I became aware of their age, all conversation and communication stopped."
He continued, "And this individual continued to come to shows and pay for meet and greets, all while I was unaware that this was the same person that I was communicating with online. And, uh, and that's what I pled guilty to. You know, I … it was reckless and irresponsible text messages."
Bell denied any physical contact between him and his victim.
"I wanna 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 photographs or images or anything like that," he said. "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 everybody involved to get to move on. And for me to get back doing what I love and that's making music for you. And I want to thank you … to everyone who saw through the lies and did their research and looked at my case and saw it for what it was instead of all this media confusion. And, you know, don't believe the media right off the bat, you know, it's a lot of clickbait. Do your own research and come top your own conclusions. And I just want to say thank you to all of you … for sticking by me. And I love you. And I will see you soon."
Editor’s note: The story has been corrected to say Drake Bell was sentenced to two years probation, not prison.