YouTube personality Austin Jones sentenced to 10 years in prison for child pornography

Austin Jones/YouTube

Authorities believe Jones reached out to over 30 underage girls.

Warning: This article contains explicit content which may be harmful to some readers. 

Disgraced 26-year-old YouTube star Austin Jones was sentenced to 10 years in prison by a Chicago judge on Friday, after pleading guilty earlier this year to coaxing six underage fans into sending him sexually explicit pictures and videos. Jones leveraged promises of Instagram fame or modeling in exchange for sexual videos and nude photos from the girls, aged 14 and 15.

Prior to his 2017 arrest at the Chicago O’Hare International Airport, authorities believe Jones reached out to at least 30 similarly aged girls.

Jones’ fate was decided in what the Chicago Tribune described as a “lengthy, emotionally wrenching” sentencing hearing. Two of Jones’ victims, their parents, and the mother of another victim attended the hearing.

“He made me feel so good about myself when I did what he wanted and so terrible when I didn’t,” said a young girl identified only as Victim F. “He would use my dreams and my fandom to manipulate me.”

“I felt like I had just given my body up for sale,” said Victim A, who said she went to bed feeling sick after Jones first asked her to film herself dancing in a sexual manner.

Jones’ 10-year sentence was double the mandatory minimum term sought by his lawyers, but only half of the maximum 20 years he faced.

“I don’t think it’d be an exaggeration to say the victims here were probably some of his biggest fans, who cared so much about him, and yet for whom Mr. Jones cared so little,” U.S. District Judge John Lee said when arriving at his decision.

In his defense, Jones’ attorneys cited the abuse their client had faced from his own father, who had molested him for years as a child, as well as his genuine remorse and commitment to therapy.

“The absolute hardest thing for me to live with is knowing that I’ve created boxes for other people,” Jones said when allowed the opportunity to speak to his victims directly. “To the victims of my actions, I want to say I’m so deeply sorry. All you ever did was support me, and I exploited that support. … I was so selfish.”

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H/T Chicago Tribune

Stacey Ritzen

Stacey Ritzen

Stacey Ritzen is a reporter and editor based in West Philadelphia with over 10 years' experience covering pop culture, web culture, entertainment, and news. You can follow her on Twitter @staceyritzen.