Ex-Child Star Drake Bell Accused of Grooming 15-Year-Old Girl Over Social Media, Charged With Child Endangerment

Fatim Hemraj

Jared "Drake" Bell.ABC 15

On June 4, 2021, prosecutors for Cuyahoga County in Ohio announced indictment charges against Nickelodeon child star Jared “Drake” Bell, now 34, for attempted endangering children, a 4th-degree felony, and disseminating matter harmful to juveniles, a 1st-degree misdemeanour.

Jared is accused of having sexually inappropriate conversations on social media with a 15-year-old female. He allegedly groomed his victim into a “relationship” for several years until they met in person for the first time in 2017 at his concert at the Odeon Concert Club in Ohio.

The victim reported the incident to a local police department where she lives in Canada in October of 2018. Cleveland police were then informed and an investigation was conducted.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutors allege Jared, “violated his duty of care and, in doing so, created a risk of harm to the victim,” during the concert in 2017 when he met the victim, but no other details have been released.

Jared was arrested in Cleveland and booked into county jail but he was released on a $2,500 bond. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is facing a maximum of 18 months if convicted. He’s forbidden from contacting the victim and was ordered to submit a DNA sample.

A virtual preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 23.

This is not Jared’s first run-in with the law. In 2015, he was arrested for driving under the influence. He served only one day of his four-day jail sentence and received four-year probation.

In the summer of 2020, Jared’s ex-girlfriend former Miss Teen USA competitor Melissa Lingafelt, who goes by the name Jimi Ono online, uploaded a video to Tik Tok accusing him of physically and verbally abusing her throughout their relationship. The couple dated from 2006 to 2009.

In the video Melissa stated:

“When I say verbal abuse, imagine the worst type of verbal abuse you could ever imagine, and that was what I got. It then turned to physical — hitting, throwing, everything. At the pinnacle of it, he drug [sic] me down the stairs of our house on Los Feliz. My face hit every step on the way down."

Jared denied the allegations and accused Melissa of fabricating the events for attention and money. He was not charged with any offences as a result of this complaint.

In the mid to late 2000s, Jared “Drake” Bell appeared in shows such as “The Amanda Show” and “Drake & Josh.” He had several small roles in various 90s cult sitcoms such as Seinfeld, The Drew Carey Show and Home Improvement.

Sources: AP News, People, US Magazine

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