A 19-year-old TikTok star has apologized after a leaked video showed her kissing a 13-year-old boy.
The older teen, Zoe LaVerne—who has almost 18 million followers on the app—addressed her actions in a livestream, where she denied “grooming” the fan and fellow TikToker, Connor Joyce.
“I didn’t groom Connor, I wouldn’t do that. He’s a kid and I’m aware of that. It just happened,” she said. “We both were in a dark place when we first became friends and we both just ended up catching feelings for each other. And friends do that, they catch feelings for each other. That’s not a bad thing. Yes, the age is a bad thing. Yes, it’s wrong. Yes, it’s not good. We both realized that and we stopped.”
Joyce and LaVerne were frequent collaborators on TikTok, where Joyce has almost 400,000 followers. He also issued a written statement where he said LaVerne “did not rape” him.
According to TooFab, the controversy first came about when messages between LaVerne’s former friend and her ex-boyfriend leaked online, where LaVerne’s ex reportedly said he broke up with her “because of her interactions with Connor.”
“They got very intense and it's something I do not stand by whatsoever. It's pedophilia,” he apparently wrote.
A video of LaVerne and Joyce subsequently leaked, showing their interactions and them kissing. LaVerne said she told Joyce’s mother about the situation: “She wasn’t happy obviously but she understood that we are both teenagers and that feelings can be caught,” LaVerne said.
LaVerne’s mother also defended her daughter, saying in a livestream, “Anybody can reach over and kiss somebody. They’re best friends.”
LaVerne and Connor have since posted TikTok videos seemingly addressing the scandal.