Warning: This article contains descriptions of sexually explicit content that some readers may find triggering.
Austin Jones, a 24-year-old musician whose cover videos were watched millions of times on YouTube, is facing charges of producing child pornography after he allegedly solicited two 14-year-old girls for sexually explicit videos.
Jones was arrested at Chicago O’Hare International Airport Monday and remains in federal custody; according to his Twitter account, he most recently performed in Poland. If convicted, Jones faces at least 15 years in prison.
A federal complaint states that Jones, whose fanbase largely consists of teenage girls, is accused of using his fame to persuade two teenage girls to send him explicit videos through Facebook and iMessage “for the purpose of sexual pleasure.” In an interview with Homeland Security Investigations, Jones admitted that he had sexually explicit chats with young girls with knowledge of their age.
Jones allegedly requested that one of the victims send him “videos of herself dancing in a sexual manner” and told her to discuss her age, calling it a “try out.” Referred to in the complaint as Victim A, she called it an “audition” and acknowledged Jones’ age in the conversation. Jones allegedly told her to delete the messages because she shared a phone with her sister. She eventually sent him 15 videos, 10 which show her exposing herself.
The second girl, who is referred to in the complaint as Victim B, was allegedly told by Jones that she needed to prove that she was Jones’ biggest fan. According to the complaint, he threatened to stop talking to her unless she complied with his requests and promised that she would get to perform a sexual act on him “if you’re lucky.” Victim B sent approximately 25 videos, eight in which she is exposed.
In 2015, Jones faced accusations of soliciting young girls for “twerking videos,” which led to a petition calling for Warped Tour to kick him off the lineup; Jones later removed himself from the tour. Others came forward to share more messages showing Jones trying to solicit videos from them with the knowledge that they were underage.
Jones later put out a lengthy statement on Facebook (no longer available online) and later recorded a 16-minute video to explain his actions.
I’m embarrassed. I’d have conversations online with girls that would involve me asking them to create a video of themselves twerking. Sometimes I’d make videos of myself doing some twerk moves in return.
Here’s the truth: I NEVER asked them to do anything more than send a twerking video. Nothing EVER went beyond that.
I recognize now how odd all of this sounds.
I recognize how much I’ve embarrassed myself, my family, and my fans. That is the reason I am coming forward today. I didn’t want to wait another day to apologize.
More than a dozen other YouTube creators have been accused of sexual abuse in the last decade, including Sam Pepper, Jason Viohni, Alex Day, and others.
If you are a victim of sexual assault or want more information on sexual assault, contact the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
H/T Chicago Tribune