Austin Jones, a 24-year-old YouTube a cappella musician, was arrested on Monday evening at Chicago’s O’Hare airport on two counts of producing child pornography.
Jones, who launched his YouTube channel in 2007 and today counts roughly 550,000 subscribers and 25 million lifetime views, allegedly persuaded underage fans to send him videos of themselves performing sexual acts, reports WGN-TV. In a Facebook chat, for instance, Jones asked a 14-year-old fan to “prove” that she was his biggest fan by sending him explicit clips.
According to the criminal complaint, Jones admitted to federal investigators that he’d engaged in explicit conversations with girls that he knew were underage. He faces a minimum of 15 years in prison for each of the charges, according to WGN. Jones is currently being held in federal custody, and his bond hearing is scheduled for today.
This isn’t the first time that the Indiana native has been accused of inappropriate behavior. Roughly two years ago, after another YouTuber claimed that Jones had been soliciting videos of his young fans twerking, he conceded that the allegations were true. But, Jones claimed in a vlog at the time, “nothing ever went further than twerking videos. There were never any nudes — never any physical contact…I was young, I was stupid, I wasn’t thinking clearly. Over time, I began to see it was wrong, and I shouldn’t have done it.”
In the admission video posted in June 2015 (below), he added that the accusations drove him to contemplate suicide, and resulted in him being hospitalized.