YouTuber Austin Jones has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.
The social media star, who rose to fame after posting a cappella covers to his YouTube channel, was arrested back in 2017 after he was accused of asking minors to send him inappropriate photos and videos on Facebook and iMessage. He pleaded guilty to the charges.
The 26-year-old admitted in a plea agreement that in 2016 and 2017, six girls, as young as 14 years old, sent him inappropriate videos to “prove” they were his “biggest fan.” Austin also revealed that he attempted to persuade other underage fans “on approximately 30 other occasions” to send him sexually explicit photos and videos.
According to prosecutors, he told his victims that the videos were part of a modeling opportunity and that he could help them gain followers on social media. It was reported that the young fans had told Austin their age and he still asked and accepted the content even after having this knowledge. Now, he will spend up to a decade in prison for his actions.
“Today’s sentencing of Austin Jones represents a major step towards justice for the young victims whom he manipulated and exploited,” Special Agent James Gibbons said in a statement on Friday, May 3, 2019.
And it turns out, there were rumors of Austin’s inappropriate behavior long before his arrest. In 2015, multiple young fans accused the aspiring musician of this same type of thing. Austin issued an apology at the time, writing, “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.”
If you or a friend has experienced sexual assault, you can find help by calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or find more resources from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center at nsvrc.org.
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