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'Monster': Drake and Josh star sentenced on child endangerment charge
13 July 2021, 12:04 | Updated: 13 July 2021, 12:25
Drake and Josh star Drake Bell has been sentenced to two years' probation on child endangerment charges, with his teenage victim branding him a "monster".
The 35-year-old actor avoided jail time after pleading guilty to a charge of attempting to endanger children, which related to a girl who met him online and accused him of sexual contact after she attended his concert at the age of 15.
Bell, of West Hollywood, California, also admitted a misdemeanour charge of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles.
The TV star was handed a probation sentence and 200 hours of community service in California by Cuyahoga County Judge Timothy McCormick.
Speaking briefly before his sentencing, Bell said via Zoom: "I accept this plea because my conduct was wrong."
He added: "I'm sorry the victim was harmed. It was not my intention."
The victim, now 19-years-old, gave a harrowing account of the damage Bell has done to her life, saying he began grooming her when she was just 12.
She said she initially felt loved and protected by the actor while talking to him online but that his messages became "blatantly sexual" after she turned 15.
The woman added that his messages made her feel uncomfortable but she felt trapped because she "idolised" the Nickelodeon star.
"I was definitely one of his biggest fans," she said while allowing her face to appear on Zoom, before adding: "I would have done anything for him."
She continued: "He was calculating, he preyed on me and he sexually abused me. He is a monster and a danger to children."
The victim claimed she and Bell exchanged explicit photos online and that he engaged in sexual conduct with her on several occasions, including at the concert venue in Cleveland and at a hotel.
She also accused Bell of being a "paedophile" and a "coward", however the actor's lawyer, Ian Friedman, disputed those claims on Monday.
He said there were no explicit photos or sexual contact between Bell and the victim and the inappropriate conduct that did occur were reflected in the charges Bell pleaded to last month.
Mr Friedman did not detail the inappropriate conduct Bell was acknowledging.
Mr McCormick, before delivering Bell's sentence, said he heard "a lot of serious and disturbing allegations" during Monday's hearing, but added that he "can't lose focus on what was pled to".
"The fact of the matter is your position and celebrity status let you nurture this relationship," he said. "You were able to gain access to this child."