Austin Jones, a YouTube star and singer, was arrested in 2017. He was charged with the production of child pornography and admitted to convincing six underage girls – who were as young as 14 – to send him pornographic videos of themselves. In February, Jones pleaded guilty, and he learned his fate on Friday.
US District Judge John Z. Lee, according to a report by CNN, sentenced Jones to 10 years in federal prison.
“Production and receipt of child pornography are extraordinarily serious offenses that threaten the safety of our children and communities,” said Assistant US Attorney Katherine Neff Welsh in a sentencing memorandum for the government.
“Jones’ actions took something from his victims and their families that they will never be able to get back.”
According to the Justice Department, Jones instructed some of the girls he targeted “to ‘prove’ they were his biggest fans.” Jones also said that they “were part of a modeling opportunity, and that he could assist them in gaining followers on Instagram.”
Jones admitted to using Facebook to try and convince underage girls to send him pornographic images and videos about 30 other times.
Before being arrested on the charges, Jones had been subjected to scrutiny for how he interacted with young fans. In June 2015, Jones posted a video on YouTube stating that he had previously asked fans to send twerking videos to him.
“Nothing ever went further than twerking videos,” he stated. “There were never any nudes, never any physical contact.”
After being arrested at O’Hare International Airport, the Chicago-based singer waived his Miranda rights and said he had sexually explicated conversations with minors on Facebook, received pornographic videos, and watched those videos for his sexual pleasure.
In a federal complaint, Jones was said to have instructed the teenage girls on how to act during the videos, including how to “clap” their buttocks to expose themselves.
“At the beginning, get super close and say these lines: hey Austin, it’s (name) and this butt is (age) years old and then make it clap for 30 seconds. Got it?” Jones wrote to one of the girls on Facebook.
According to the complaint, that girl sent around 15 videos to Jones. In 10 of the videos, she exposed herself.