YouTube Star Gets 10 Years for Coaxing Underage Female Fans to Share Sexually Explicit Videos
Austin Jones pleaded guilty to one count of receiving child pornography after admitting he coerced fans to create and send the explicit videos
Prosecutors had sought to lock up Jones, 26, for 11 years following his admission in February that he had online conversations with six underage girls on Facebook between 2016 and 2017. During those exchanges, he coerced the girls into making the videos for his benefit.
“He preyed on their youth, their vulnerabilities and most glaringly, their adoration of him, and he did it over and over again,” prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois said in a court filing last week, reports the Tribune. “He coached the girls on what to wear, what to say, how to dance and what to do in the videos.”
With more than 500,000 YouTube subscribers at the time, Jones, from the Chicago suburb of Bloomingdale, produced videos that were viewed millions of times. He told some of the girls they would have to “prove” their devotion to him by making and sending the explicit videos, and discussed with others that he could help them attract followers on Instagram, prosecutors said.
Jones admitted to authorities that he attempted to coerce minors on Facebook into providing him with the sexually explicit videos and photographs on approximately 30 different occasions.
A criminal complaint filed in 2017 detailed his alleged interactions with two victims, in 2016 and 2017, when they were 14. Both victims sent him multiple sexually explicit videos.
Jones initially faced two federal counts of producing child pornography upon his arrest in June 2017, but under a plea agreement he pleaded guilty to only one count of receipt of child pornography.
The conviction carried a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison and a possible maximum of 20 years.
Jones' attorney, Gerardo S. Gutierrez, could not immediately be reached for comment.
In the videos, which were sent through Facebook Messenger, Jones allegedly told the victims to twerk — a form of dancing — and expose their buttocks and repeat how old they were, in the course of which they also showed their genitals, according to the complaint obtained by PEOPLE.
“You need an intro to the video,” he allegedly told one of the girls, identified in court documents as Victim A. “At the beginning, get super close and say these lines: hey Austin, it's [name] and this butt is [age] years old and then make it clap for 30 seconds. Got it?”
The court documents show she appeared to follow this request.
“Hey Austin, my name is [Victim A's first name] and my butt is 14 years old,” she began one video, allegedly sent to Jones, before she danced against a wall, according to the complaint.
In August 2016, Jones and another 14-year-old girl, identified as Victim B, communicated through Facebook chat for two days, the complaint alleged. The pair talked about how young she was and how much she liked his music.
According to the document, Jones allegedly repeatedly told her that she was “so lucky” to have his attention and would have to “prove” how much of a fan she was. After one video, he allegedly responded, “In the next one, you have to prove you're my biggest fan. I know you can do it!”
“How amazing that would be for you!! To have your favorite singer spanking your a–!” he allegedly wrote to her at one point. “If you're lucky, maybe I'd let you suck my d—.”
“It's not something that I'm proud of, it's not something that I think is right, and I shouldn't have done it,” he said in the video, which was titled “Setting The Record Straight.”