Drake Bell Promotes Video From Known Conspiracy Theorist

drake bell
Oleksandr Rybitskiy/Shutterstock Drake Bell/YouTube Remix by Caterina Rose

(Content warning: Child abuse and sexual assault)

On March 17, Investigation Discovery released the highly-anticipated docu-series Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV. It chronicles alleged abuse and child neglect that occurred at Nickelodeon on shows like Zoey 101, Drake and Josh, and The Amanda Show. One of the most damning and talked about interviews in the series was with Drake Bell, a child star and musician who worked with the network in the 90s and 2000s.

In the show, Bell shared that he was a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of Nickelodeon dialogue coach Brian Peck. In 2003, police arrested Peck and convicted him of “Lewd Acts with a Child,” serving a 16-month prison sentence. 

Over the past few years, public sentiment had shifted against Bell. In 2021, Bell pled guilty to “attempted endangering of children” and “disseminating matter harmful to juveniles.” The victim was 15 when she filed a report at her local Canadian police station in 2018. Since then, she worked with the state of Ohio. 

The investigation revealed Bell had been talking to the victim since she was 12. He then sent her messages of a sexual nature at age 15. Once he found out her age, the defense claims he stopped engaging with her, telling to to quote, “Hurry up.”

But according to the victim’s statement read at the hearing, she claimed Bell was aware of her age when he sent her these “blatantly sexual messages.” She also alleged he sent her images “of his body and his genitals.” She further claimed that at an October 2017 concert, he had her “perform oral sex” on him while her aunt waited outside the room, unaware. 

Bell said in an Instagram video after the trial that the claims of sexual assault “are false.” He added, “If these were remotely true, my situation would be very different.” Still, the allegations he did plead guilty to were damning enough for many onlookers to have their opinions soured of their childhood star. 

But after the success of the Quiet on Set docu-series, which reached 16 million viewers and is getting a fifth episode, Bell is using this momentum to shift the narrative. The day after the docu-series premiered, Bell released a music video on YouTube for his song “I Kind of Relate.” In the video, actors reenact moments from Bell’s past.

At the end of the music video, which has over 1.4 million views, there is an embedded thumbnail of a video titled, “Matt Wallace EXPOSES FAKE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST DRAKE BELL!” For those unfamiliar with YouTube editing, for this video to appear, Bell or someone from his team had to intentionally edit the thumbnail into the end screen.

Bell also sent the Matt Wallace video to the Twitter account Rich Clarkophile. On March 20, after the release of Quiet on Set, Clarkophile posted a viral thread about the allegations against Bell. In the thread, they resurfaced the underage victim’s statement.

According to messages confirmed by Passionfruit, Bell then sent Clarkophile a link to Wallace’s video on X. Bell added the ominous message: “Witnesses…”  

“I think Drake sent me that video to make me doubt his victim,” Clarkophile told Passionfruit. “I think he also wanted to intimidate me by letting me know that he’s seen my posts about him.” 

In the video, Wallace speaks to two women who claim to have been at Bell’s October 2017 concert. One of the women tries to discredit the victim’s claims of an assault. Passionfruit was unable to confirm the identities of these women or their claims. (Wallace and Bell did not respond to a request for comment.)

Wallace and the two women spend most of the 10-minute run time blaming the “media” and discussing what happened with Peck, overlaid with pictures of Bell with his wife and kid at Disneyland. The only other video on that YouTube account, named “Justice,” is a zoom-in shot of the victim at the trial while Bell’s lawyer makes a statement, with “#cancelculture” in the description.

According to the fact-checking website Snopes, Wallace has “a history of promoting misinformation” and has “trafficked in various unsupported conspiracy theories.” On his X account, he regularly provokes engagement with false narratives about pedophile elites and incorrectly labeled images.

A recent example of a conspiracy theory spread by Wallace, who has 1.6 million followers, was on March 25. Wallace made a tweet attempting to connect the tragic crashing of a cargo ship into the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore with a movie President Barack Obama produced last year. In the thread, he says Obama was “EXPOSED PULLING THE STRINGS BEHIND EVERYTHING.” It has over 20 million views.

Bell has also been responding on TikTok with his account to dissenters. In one comment seen by Passionfruit, a TikTok user asked about Bell’s ex-girlfriend Melissa Lingafelt. Lingafelt claimed in a now-deleted 2020 TikTok that Bell physically and verbally abused her. In a reply to the TikTok user, Bell denied the claims.

According to Dr. Ann Olivarius, a lawyer who specializes in sexual abuse and harassment cases, there’s a comparison to be made to the trial of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, just on a much smaller scale. Though Heard won a libel case against Depp in Britain, social media noise (allegedly flooded by bots) turned the tide of public opinion. It potentially led to her loss when the case came to the US.

“I don’t think it’s an equal world out there for women when it comes to sexual assault allegations. They are often not believed,” Dr. Olivarius told Passionfruit. 

For years, right-leaning YouTubers and fan accounts, were the only ones adamantly defending Bell’s innocence. But Quiet on the Set is shifting the conversation. Searches for “Drake Bell innocent” have been on the rise since the doc’s release, according to Google Trends. In between his recent paid ads for cryptocurrencies, denials of any wrongdoing flood his comments sections. 

Meanwhile, the underage victim remains off of social media, unable to compete with the noise of Bell’s millions of followers.

“The poorer man’s approach is to go online and abuse them online, troll them,” Dr. Olivarius said. “These are the weapons that wealthy men are using to threaten and silence women.” 

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