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Drake Bell receives probation on child endangerment charge

Drake Bell receives probation on child endangerment charge

Former Nickelodeon television star Drake Bell has been sentenced to two years of probation on child endangerment charges relating to a girl who met him online and accused him of sexual contact after she attended his concert when she was 15By MARK GILLISPIE Associated PressJuly 12, 2021, 7:34 PM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleCLEVELAND — Drake Bell, the former star of the popular Nickelodeon show “Drake & Josh,” was sentenced in Cleveland on Monday to two years’ probation on child endangerment charges relating to a girl who met him online and accused him of sexual contact after she attended his concert when she was 15.Jared “Drake” Bell, 35, of West Hollywood, California, pleaded guilty last month via Zoom to felony attempted child endangerment and a misdemeanor charge of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles.Cuyahoga County Judge Timothy McCormick is allowing Bell to serve probation and 200 hours of community service in California.Bell, via Zoom, spoke briefly before sentencing.“I accept this plea because my conduct was wrong,” Bell said. “I’m sorry the victim was harmed. It was not my intention.”The victim, who is 19, spoke at length about the damage Bell has done to her life, saying he began grooming her when she was 12. She said she initially felt loved and protected by him during online chats and that his messages became “blatantly sexual” after she turned 15. She said his remarks made her feel uncomfortable, but she felt trapped because she “idolized” Bell.“I was definitely one of his biggest fans,” said the woman, who allowed her face to appear on Zoom. “I would have done anything for him.”The Associated Press does not identify people who say they suffered sexual abuse unless they choose to come forward publicly.The woman said 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 called Bell a “pedophile” and a “coward.”Bell’s attorney, 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. Friedman did not detail the inappropriate conduct Bell was acknowledging.Friedman said the victim attended nine of Bell’s concerts after the one in Cleveland. The woman responded by holding up three fingers.“There is already a greater penalty paid by Mr. Bell that others would not face because of his position,” Friedman said.Authorities have said the victim contacted Toronto police in October 2018. Toronto authorities then forwarded its findings to Cleveland police, prompting an investigation.The attempted endangering children charge relates to the concert where Bell “violated his duty of care” and created a risk of harm to the victim, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office spokesperson Tyler Sinclair said previously.Bell and the girl had “developed a relationship” online several years prior to the concert, Sinclair said. The disseminating harmful material charge concerns Bell having sent the girl “inappropriate social media messages,” Sinclair said.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,” McCormick said. “You were able to gain access to this child.”Bell, also a singer, began acting as a child, but was catapulted to stardom as a teen with Nickelodeon’s “The Amanda Show” and later “Drake & Josh,” which debuted on the channel in January 2004. The final episode aired in September 2007. Bell and co-star Josh Peck also starred in two “Drake & Josh” movies.———This story has been corrected to show Bell’s age is 35, not 34.

Watchdog subpoenas FirstEnergy info on payment to regulator

Ohio’s consumer utility watchdog is demanding that FirstEnergy Corp. share more information about $4.3 million that was paid to an attorney to end his consulting contract shortly before he became the state’s top utility regulatorBy MARK GILLISPIE Associated PressJuly 2, 2021, 9:08 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleCLEVELAND — Ohio’s consumer utility watchdog is demanding that FirstEnergy Corp. share more information about $4.3 million that was paid to an attorney to end his consulting contract shortly before he became the state’s top utility regulator.Akron-based FirstEnergy disclosed that payment in the wake of allegations about a $60 million bribery scheme involving a subsidiary. Ohio Consumers’ Counsel Bruce Weston issued subpoenas through the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio late last week for more information about the payment.FirstEnergy Service Company and the FirstEnergy Foundation also received subpoenas. In addition to the consulting contract, Weston and his agency are seeking information about the company’s charitable giving and documents related to an internal investigation by FirstEnergy’s Board of Directors that resulted in the dismissal of its CEO and other top executives.The subpoenas say FirstEnergy must provide the documents by July 19.“Utilities have undue influence in Ohio,” Weston said Friday in a statement. “The public has a right to know how their state government, including the PUCO, is regulating these powerful utilities such as FirstEnergy.”FirstEnergy spokesperson Jennifer Young declined to comment, citing ongoing investigations of the company.FirstEnergy officials have said it’s cooperating in investigations of what authorities allege was a $60 million bribery scheme to win legislative approval in 2019 for a $1 billion bailout for two unprofitable nuclear power plants then operated by a wholly-owned FirstEnergy subsidiary.In the wake of those allegations, FirstEnergy disclosed in U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings that company executives paid attorney Sam Randazzo $4.3 million in January 2019 to end a purported consulting contract. Republican Gov. Mike DeWine appointed Randazzo chair of the utilities commission weeks later.The commission is responsible for setting rates paid by electric and natural gas customers in Ohio, giving Randazzo, a longtime utility attorney and lobbyist, an outsized role at the agency.Randazzo resigned in November 2020 after FBI agents searched his Columbus townhome and FirstEnergy disclosed in an SEC filing that month that former executives had violated the company’s policies and code of conduct when they paid Randazzo millions to end a consulting contract in place since 2013.The company disclosed in February that its internal investigation found that “payments under the consulting agreement may have been for purposes other than those represented.”Randazzo declined to comment about the subpoenas or allegations on Friday. He hasn’t been charged.FirstEnergy has been negotiating a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice.Federal authorities say the alleged bribery scheme was masterminded by then-House Speaker Larry Householder, a Republican who has since been expelled from the House.He and four of his associates were indicted on federal racketeering charges. Householder has pleaded not guilty.The GOP-led Ohio Legislature voted to repeal the bailout at the center of the alleged scheme after the new owner of the nuclear plants indicated it no longer wanted the money.The company, Energy Harbor, took ownership of the plants in February 2020 as part of a deal made in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

Drake Bell pleads guilty to felony endangerment charge

Drake Bell pleads guilty to felony endangerment charge

A star of the popular Nickelodeon show “Drake & Josh” has pleaded guilty to a felony charge of attempted child endangerment in ClevelandBy MARK GILLISPIE Associated PressJune 23, 2021, 6:53 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleCLEVELAND — Drake Bell, the former star of the popular Nickelodeon show “Drake & Josh,” pleaded guilty on Wednesday to charges relating to a girl who met him online and attended one of his concerts in Cleveland in 2017, when she was 15.Jared “Drake” Bell, 34, of West Hollywood, California, pleaded guilty via Zoom to felony attempted child endangerment and a misdemeanor charge of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles. Sentencing is scheduled for July 12 in Cleveland.Defense attorney Ian Friedman said Wednesday that he could not comment on the case but said it will be revealed at sentencing “why Mr. Bell chose to enter today’s plea.”Bell had initially pleaded not guilty to the charges earlier this month. Tyler Sinclair, a spokesperson for the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office, said at the time that the girl contacted Toronto police in October 2018. Toronto authorities then contacted Cleveland police, prompting an investigation.The attempted endangering children charge relates to the concert, Sinclair said, where Bell “violated his duty of care” and created a risk of harm to the victim. Sinclair didn’t elaborate further.Bell and the girl had “developed a relationship” online several years prior to the concert, Sinclair said. The disseminating harmful material charge concerns Bell having sent the girl “inappropriate social media messages,” Sinclair said.The sentencing range is probation to two years in prison. The girl, who is now an adult, will be allowed to give a victim impact statement at the sentencing.Sinclair declined to comment about the case Wednesday.Bell, also a singer, began acting as a child, but was catapulted to stardom as a teen with Nickelodeon’s “The Amanda Show” and later “Drake & Josh,” which debuted on the channel in January 2004. The final episode aired in September 2007. Bell and co-star Josh Peck also starred in two “Drake & Josh” movies.———This story has been corrected to show that Bell’s “Drake & Josh” co-star is Josh Peck, not Josh Beck.