Former Youtube star Austin Jones has been sentenced to ten years in a United States federal prison after pleading guilty to persuading underage girls to send him explicit videos of themselves.
Jones, who made a name for himself online by singing song covers, was arrested and charged in 2017 with two counts of producing child pornography.
He later pleaded guilty to one count of receiving child pornography: He admitted in a plea deal that in 2016 and 2017 he lured six girls into producing and submitting explicit videos to “prove” they were his “biggest fan,” according to Buzzfeed.
“The production and receipt of child pornography are extraordinarily serious crimes that threaten the safety of our children and communities,” quotes Assistant United States Attorney Katherine Neff Welsh who wrote in a sentencing note. “Jones’s actions took something from his victims and their families that they can never get back.”
At the height of your YouTube Fame Jones had around 540,000 subscribers to his channel and more than 20 million video views.
In a 2015 apology vlog, after reports surfaced that Jones was asking young fans to send him twerking videos, he claimed that he never went beyond that. “There was never nudity, there was never physical contact, it never happened,” he said then.
But in his plea deal, Jones admitted to trying to persuade more than thirty underage fans to send him explicit photos or videos.
YouTube removed Jones’s channel after he pleaded guilty in February, saying he had violated its community guidelines. But the google At first the company refused to shut it down, telling the BBC a few days before that, while has a policy of removing content when a person is convicted of a crime “in some cases”, it does so only if the content is closely related to the crime committed.
Describing her experience in a vlog also posted on YouTube, a former fan who received messages from Jones asked her to tweak videos before her 2015 apology when she was 14 years old.
“I just don’t understand how these people can let fame go to their heads so much that they think it’s okay to do something to people like this,” he said. “He’s so messy. But the fact that his fanbase was these vulnerable, insecure girls makes him a lot worse than he already is… He knew that was his fanbase and he took advantage of it.”