YouTube has decided to temporarily leave up videos belonging to SevenAwesomeKids — a popular family of channels targeting tween and teen girls — after the network’s 55-year-old owner and director, Ian Rylett, was arrested in August for molesting one of SevenAwesomeKids’ stars, BuzzFeed News reports. YouTube confirmed to Tubefilter that Rylett’s channels were demonetized shortly after his August arrest.
A police report obtained by BuzzFeed News showed that Rylett was arrested after the girl, who is under age 16, said he made her undress in front of him to practice wrapping her breasts so they’d appear smaller on camera. She alleges that he then fondled her breasts, and tried to remove her underwear, per BuzzFeed News. Further allegations in the police report indicate that he “threatened to use the contract to fine her if she did not comply with his demand.”
A YouTube spokesperson tells Tubefilter, “We take safety on YouTube very seriously. We work closely with leading child safety organizations and others in our industry to protect young people. When we’re made aware of serious allegations of this nature we take action, which may include suspending monetization, or, upon conclusion of an investigation, terminating the channel.”
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While it’s worth noting that none of the videos on the SevenAwesomeKids network feature inappropriate content, its owner is facing serious legal jeopardy for his alleged offline predation. According to sources, in situations like these, YouTube terminates channels following a conviction or guilty plea.
SevenAwesomeKids comprises seven channels that together have 17 million subscribers. Its most popular channel, SevenSuperGirls, has more than nine million subscribers and more than five billion views.
BuzzFeed News spoke with a number of former SevenAwesomeKids network stars — all of whom were kept anonymous for their protection. None of them said Rylett assaulted them, but they did note what was described as frequent “awkward” behavior, like urging the girls to wear smaller swimsuits on camera and making comments about possible “wardrobe malfunctions.” One girl said she’d felt “constant pressure to make myself look younger.” Three former stars said they quit the network after a Tosh.0 segment where host Daniel Tosh insinuated the channel’s videos were being watched by pedophiles.
Another former SevenAwesomeKids actor called into question YouTube’s responsibility on such matters — not an easy question, since the platform couldn’t possibly be responsible for the safety of all the creators who upload hundreds of hours’ worth of content to the service every minute. “In all my years filming for the channels, there was never any conversation with YouTube,” the actor said. “There was no kid rep support that I know of and no number to call to report things to. We were on our own.”
Rylett pleaded not guilty during an arraignment in August. He will be on trial later this year.