Austin Jones, a popular YouTube star who has nearly 550,000 subscribers, was arrested and charged with child pornography in a federal court in Chicago. According to the Chicago Tribune, the 24-year-old Jones allegedly coerced two underage fans, who are "around 14 years old," into sending him videos of themselves performing graphic sex acts. Jones was apprehended after his plane landed at O'Hare International Airport on Monday.
According to a criminal complaint that was unsealed on Tuesday, Jones is accused of having a chat with one of the teenagers last month when he asked her to dance in a "sexually suggestive manner," and, on top of that, "make it clap super loud and talk about your age the whole time."
As for the other teenager, Jones stands accused of asking her to remove her underpants in a Facebook chat to prove that she's his "biggest fan." That exchange is said to have occurred last year.
Jones faced accusations of similar behavior in the spring of 2015. Controversy initially arose that April, when it was announced that he would be one of five YouTubers on that summer's Warped Tour. Within weeks of that announcement, young fans started coming forward, claiming that Jones asked them to send him twerking videos. Those accusations led to a Change.org petition asking for Jones to be removed from the tour—a petition that garnered over 9,000 signatures. By the middle of May, the singer offered a written apology on his Facebook page. He also, according to Warped founder Kevin Lyman, removed himself from Warped Tour.
In June, Jones put together a 16-minute-long YouTube video where he apologized further. Though he expressed his regret, he also denied that his requests crossed any sexual lines.
As for Jones' current predicament, he is facing a pair of felony counts of production of child pornography. Each of those carries a 15 year mandatory minimum sentence.
He will have a bond hearing on Wednesday, and is yet to enter a plea.
Jones's YT channel features videos that have racked up millions of views, and shows him performing original songs in addition to covers of Justin Bieber, Twenty One Pilots, and a bunch of others.