YouTube star Austin Jones sentenced 10 years for coercing young girls to send him explicit videos. How a social media influencer preyed on his huge female fan base.
A former YouTube star with a swath teenage following has been sentenced to ten years prison for coercing young girls to send him sexually explicit videos.
Appearing at a Chicago courthouse on Friday, prosecutors sought an 11-year prison sentence for Austin Jones on Friday. The defense wanted the minimum available five years. U.S. District Judge John Z. Lee ultimately decided on ten.
Famous for his singing renditions of hit covers, Jones, 26 of Bloomingdale, Illinois, had hundreds of thousands of followers on his YouTube channel. His music videos had millions of views.
In a court filing last week, obtained by the Chicago Tribune, prosecutors said Jones ‘preyed on their youth, their vulnerabilities and most glaringly, their adoration of him, and he did it over and over again.’
‘He coached the girls on what to wear, what to say, how to dance and what to do in the videos,’ the filing added.
A defense filing asked for leniency, saying Jones’ life was ‘marred with abuse, pain, loss and death.’ It said he suffered sexual abuse as a child.
Told U.S. District Judge John Z. Lee following Jones’ sentencing, ‘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’.
Argued Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine Neff Welsh prior to sentencing, ‘Jones’s actions took something from his victims and their families that they will never be able to get back.’
Austin Jones finally got sentenced to 10 years of prison today. Most news outlets are using a selfie of him (why wouldn’t they he’s young and white) so here’s a fun one i found from WGN9. Cheers! That’s something to celebrate! pic.twitter.com/QeubZrHxnP
— shan (@ShannonIsDunn) May 4, 2019
YouTube star Austin Jones sentenced: the fall of an icon.
Jones was arrested in 2017. He pleaded guilty in February to child pornography.
In a plea agreement, he said that in 2016 and 2017, he had enticed six girls to send him sexually explicit photos and videos to prove that they were his biggest fan.
In the criminal complaint that led to his arrest, one girl who was only 14 at the time said she made 15 videos for Jones. Federal authorities said in the complaint that the other victim had sent Jones a total of 25 videos, eight of which were sexually explicit.
Prosecutors said the 26-year-old admitted to reaching out to 30 other girls online before his arrest on child pornography charges in 2017.
In some instances, Jones told unsuspecting young females that he could open up modeling opportunities for them along with gaining Instagram followers if they agreed to send him sexually explicit video.
Following Jones’s guilty plea, YouTube terminated his channel which at the time had more than 300,000 followers.