Singer and YouTube star Austin Jones was arrested Monday, June 12, on child pornography charges.
Jones, 24, allegedly instructed two young female fans around 14 years old to send him sexually explicit videos of themselves. The suburban singer appeared Tuesday in a Chicago federal court and said he understood the charges. He is facing two counts of production of child pornography, each carrying a minimum 15-year prison sentence.
Jones has nearly 550,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel, which has amassed more than 24 million views. He describes himself as an “alternative pop vocalist” and is known for his a cappella covers of songs by Justin Bieber, Twenty One Pilots, and Fall Out Boy. He also shares original songs on his channel.
According to the Chicago Sun Times, Jones admitted to requesting and receiving videos from the victims, and he admitted that it was for sexual pleasure, according to the complaint. One victim allegedly sent Jones 15 videos, including 10 videos of her exposing herself. According to the complaint, Jones reportedly told her what to wear, how to dance, and how to adjust the camera “so I can see you from head to toe.”
The other alleged victim reportedly sent Jones videos via Facebook, and at his request, she repeatedly gave her age, which is 14.
In May 2015, Jones was accused of lying about his age in order to get young girls to send him videos of them twerking.
“I’m embarrassed. I’d have conversations online with girls that would involve me asking them to create a video of themselves twerking. Sometimes I’d make videos of myself doing some twerk moves in return. Here’s the truth: I NEVER asked them to do anything more than send a twerking video. Nothing EVER went beyond that,” Jones said in a since-deleted Facebook apology.
He continued, “What was I thinking? That’s the question I know most of you want to know and, quite frankly, I want to know too. I have decided to take this time to reflect and to discover how to grow from this and become a better person. I owe that to my family, my friends, my fans, but most importantly to me.”
A bond hearing has been set for Wednesday; however, prosecutors say they’ll oppose his release.