On Thursday, the 35-year-old "Drake & Josh" alum posted a video to Instagram, telling fans he owes them "an explanation." The former Nickelodeon star, whose full name is Jared Drake Bell, was sentenced to two years of probation and 200 hours of community service in Cleveland court on July 12.
Bell began his video by refuting reports that circulated on social media and in some media outlets alleging he had changed his name to Drake Campana and taken up residence in Mexico. His Instagram bio currently shows his name as Drake Campana.
"Most of the news you've heard recently is entirely false and wrong," he said in the video. "I feel that you deserve, and I owe you, an explanation. I didn't change my name. Although I would love to, I've never moved to Mexico, I've never been a resident or a citizen of Mexico. I don't have a Mexican passport. I didn't get arrested, I didn't go to jail."
He continued, "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. If these claims were remotely true, my situation would be very different. I would not be here at home with my wife and my son. But that being said, I am not perfect, and I make mistakes."
Bell said he responded to a fan without knowing their age, and when he learned their age, he ceased communication with the person.
"This individual continued to come to shows and pay for meet and greets, all while I was unaware that this was the same person I was communicating with online, and that's what I plead guilty to," he continued. "It was reckless and irresponsible text messages. I want to make clear there were no sexual images, nothing physical between me and this individual."
Bell noted that the interactions took place over texts and that he wasn't charged with doing "anything physical" or disseminating any images.
"When I was presented with a plea deal, because of the messages, I felt that this was the best way to get this over quickly, and for everyone involved to be able to move on," the star added. "And for me to get back to doing what I love, and that is making music for you."
Bell pleaded guilty on June 23 to attempted child endangerment, a fourth-degree felony, and disseminating matter harmful to juveniles, a first-degree misdemeanor. He had been taken into custody by Cleveland police on June 3 and was charged with both counts, to which he initially pleaded not guilty.
"Today I accept this plea because my conduct was wrong," Drake shared during the July 12 sentencing hearing, according to NBC News. "I'm sorry that the victim was harmed in any way — that was obviously not my intention. I have taken this matter very, very seriously, and again I just want to apologize to her and anyone else who may have been affected by my actions."
At the time of Bell's arrest, the Cuyahoga Prosecutor's Office had stated that a then-15-year-old girl filed a report with Toronto police in October 2018 stemming from an alleged 2017 incident at a Cleveland nightclub involving herself and the star.
According to the Prosecutor's Office, an investigation showed that Bell had sent "inappropriate social media messages" in the months preceding the concert, which followed a relationship that had been established several years prior between the two individuals.
During the sentencing hearing, the now-19-year-old woman read a victim impact statement accusing Bell of being a pedophile, grooming her and sexually abusing her. She also said Bell had caused her "indescribable" pain.
In a July 12 statement, Bell's attorney said, "Today's plea and sentence reflect conduct for which Mr. Bell did accept responsibility. The victim's allegations that went beyond that, which all parties agreed not only lack supporting evidence but are contradicted by the facts learned through extensive investigation. As the court made clear, this plea was never about sexual misconduct or sexual relations with any person, let alone a minor."