CUYAHOGA COUNTY, OH – Former Nickelodeon star Drake Bell, who starred in the show “Drake & Josh” in the mid-2000s, was charged with attempted endangering of children and disseminating matter harmful to juveniles for an incident that allegedly happened back in 2017.
The 34-year-old was said to have pleaded not guilty to the charges on June 3rd, and his since posted bond.
Here are the details known so far about the case.
Drake Bell, star of "Drake and Josh," charged for crimes against a child in Ohio https://t.co/KnZZbf06Ds
— CBS News (@CBSNews) June 5, 2021
Court documents note that the then-15-year-old victim had attended a concert where Bell was performing on December 1st of 2017 at a nightclub in Cleveland, Ohio.
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office’s public information officer, Tyler Sinclair, explained that the victim had contacted local authorities about the December 2017 incident nearly a year later, in October of 2018.
While few specifics about the alleged crimes were shared, Sinclair stated the following:
“That investigation revealed that the 15-year-old victim, who had established a relationship with Bell several years prior, attended his concert in December 2017.
“While there, Bell violated his duty of care and, in doing so, created a risk of harm to the victim.”
Cleveland Police had also reportedly found evidence that Bell had been sending “inappropriate social media messages” for months prior to the December 2017 concert.
— E! News (@enews) June 4, 2021
Bell was charged with attempted endangering of children, which is a fourth-degree felony, and disseminating matter harmful to juveniles, a first-degree misdemeanor.
According to Ohio law, endangering of children covers a wide array of abusive behaviors that “create a substantial risk to the health or safety of the child.”
The law covers offenses ranging from physical abusing a child, driving while impaired with a minor in tow, to enticing a minor to “act, model, or in any other way participate in” activities a reasonable person would deem “obscene, is sexually oriented matter, or is nudity-oriented matter.”
As for Bell’s second charge, disseminating matter harmful to juveniles, the Ohio statute is fairly self explanatory. The law in question prohibits any dissemination , or attempted dissemination, of “any material or performance that is obscene or harmful to juveniles.”
Since Bell was charged with the misdemeanor portion of Section 2907.31 pertaining to disseminating matter harmful to juveniles (the misdemeanor portion of the statute), the state is alleging that Bell’s actions encroached upon the following:
“While in the physical proximity of the juvenile or law enforcement officer posing as a juvenile, allow any juvenile or law enforcement officer posing as a juvenile to review or peruse any material or view any live performance that is harmful to juveniles.”
Bell posted bond on June 3rd, which was reportedly set at $2,500, and the courts have ordered him to have no contact with the victim in the case and also submit a DNA specimen to the local sheriff’s office.
The attorney representing Bell, Ian Friedman, said in a statement that “all facts will be revealed in the courtroom,” and that neither he or his client will be making any additional comment on the matter as of this time.
This is an ongoing investigation.
Please follow Law Enforcement Today as we continue to gather further insight into this developing case.
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Back in February, Law Enforcement Today shared another report pertaining to children’s show stars being arrested for inappropriate conduct with minors.
Here’s that previous report.
Three people associated with the Netflix docuseries “Cheer” have been arrested for alleged sexual misconduct involving minors.
“Cheer,” an Emmy-winning Netflix original documentary series, follows the members of the Navarro College competitive cheer squad while they train to compete for the title at the junior college national championship.
In September 2020, Jeremiah “Jerry” Harris, one of the show’s stars, was accused in a lawsuit of “child exploitation and abuse” of twin brothers, age 13 at the time of the alleged abuse.
Jeremiah "Jerry" Harris, one of the students featured in Netflix's breakout docuseries "Cheer," is being accused of child sexual exploitation and abuse, according to a lawsuit filed this week by attorneys representing two alleged victims. https://t.co/lFRn3rwYbP
— CNN (@CNN) September 16, 2020
The lawsuit alleged that Harris:
“exploited his popularity and position of fame with young male cheer athletes… leading up to, during, and following the distribution of the ‘Cheer’ docuseries.”
It further alleged that Harris exchanged sexually explicit photos with the minors, and:
“Harris’ messages were not limited to electronic harassment and abuse.
“Harris often attempted to make Plaintiffs meet Harris in secluded locations at various competitions, soliciting sexual conduct with these boys.”
Approximately one week after this lawsuit was filed, Harris was arrested for “enticing an underage boy to produce sexually explicit videos and photos of himself.”
He was charged with one count of producing child pornography, and in October a judge denied him bond.
In December, 2020, Harris was indicted on seven counts in U.S. District Court in Illinois. New charges at that time alleged that he not only solicited photos from minor boys, but also solicited sex from minors while at cheerleading competitions.
— Lynn Shaw (@LynnShawProd) December 12, 2020
A spokesperson for Harris stated that Harris and his associates “categorically dispute[d]” the claims. Harris is presently awaiting trial.
The sexually-related arrests have not stopped there.
Recently, two more men associated with the show have made headlines for their arrests for sexual offenses.
Mitchell Ryan, 23, was a Navarro College cheer team member on the show.
He was arrested in Texas on Wednesday, February 3, 2021, and charged with “felony aggravated sexual assault of a child.” This assault allegedly occurred on June 24, 2020.
Ryan’s attorney, Jeremy Rosenthal, told USA Today:
“This has been a nightmare for Mitch and his family.”
“We look forward to Dallas County hearing the truth and this case being over.”
Rosenthal did not comment further on the case.
His client was released from jail Friday, February 5, after posting bond.
Two cheerleaders linked to the Netflix docuseries "Cheer" were arrested this week in separate cases relating to alleged sexual misconduct involving minors — the latest arrests connected to a show already tainted by allegations against star Jerry Harris. https://t.co/RbrsfmAQF8
— Marisa Kwiatkowski (@byMarisaK) February 5, 2021
Ryan was also suspended after his arrest by the U.S. All Star Federation (USASF), the governing body of competitive cheerleading.
However, according to USA Today, the timing of this suspension was representative of “pervasive failures” the federation has toward allegations of cheerleaders’ sexual misconduct with minors. The publication asserts that the USASF had known about the allegations against Ryan since October 2020.
Another man featured on “Cheer” was also arrested February 3 on unrelated charges.
Robert Joseph Scianna Jr., age 25, was arrested and charged with “taking indecent liberties with a child and use of an electronic communication device to solicit sex.”
Scianna is a celebrity cheerleader who was featured on one episode of “Cheer.”
According to Sergeant Winfred Lewis of the Chesterfield County Police Department in Virginia, Scianna messaged someone he thought to be a 14-year-old boy and arranged to meet the boy in real life. He was arrested before the meeting.
Also according to Lewis, this particular meeting was not connected to cheerleading.
Lewis did state, however, that:
“[Scianna] likely has a lot of possible contact with juveniles, with underage kids.”
Indeed, per his website, Scianna has coached 310 cheer camps and choreographed 140 cheer routines. He is pictured on the site instructing minors at camps and coaching sessions.
Sergeant Lewis indicated that the investigation is continuing, saying:
“Hopefully if there are any more victims out there that for whatever reason, maybe because of his stature, didn’t want to come forward, that they reach out to the police department so we can investigate further.”
Presently, Scianna is being held without bond in the Chesterfield County Jail.
Two male cheerleaders featured on the show “Cheer” on Netflix were arrested this week, reports USA Today, facing accusations of sexual misconduct involving minors. This is in addition to the show’s breakout star Jerry Harris, who was arrested last fall. https://t.co/mfDgKaD5L7
— Denver7 News (@DenverChannel) February 5, 2021
Like Ryan, Scianna has also been suspended by the USASF.
As for Netflix, the video streaming giant did not comment on these two most recent arrests.
According to USA Today, Netflix referred back to its original statement after Harris’ arrest, which read:
“Like everyone we are shocked by this news.
“Any abuse of minors is a terrible crime and we respect the legal process.”
At this writing, the show “Cheer” is still streaming on the Netflix platform.
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