Austin Jones, 26, admitted to persuading six underage girls to send him sexually explicit videos.
The girls had been fans of his YouTube channel, where he shared his music, and at the height his popularity attracted “hundreds of thousands of followers”. The Chicago Tribune has reported on this in depth:
It was among those devoted fans that Jones found his victims, coercing underage girls to perform sexually explicit dances during live online chats by promising modeling opportunities, Instagram stardom and his valuable attention. “ohmygoodness that’s amazing!!” one victim responded when Jones told her she had “a lot of modeling potential,” according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors are pushing for an 11-year prison sentence. Jones’s defense has requested the minimum five years, citing a troubled childhood as some explanation for his actions as an adult. More from the Tribune:
In the months after his arrest, Jones alleged that his father repeatedly molested him between the ages of 6 and 10, according to the defense filing. The ensuing “emotional trauma and chaos … has consumed his life,” they wrote, leading to severe depression, low self-esteem, sexual dysfunction and difficulty sleeping since the age of 11.