austin jones youtube
[Photo via YouTube]

YouTube star Austin Jones has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for persuading underage girls to send him sexually explicit videos of themselves.

The 26-year-old became famous for making a cappella covers of pop songs. Jones persuaded six girls to send the videos to “prove” they were his “biggest fan.”

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Jones was arrested in 2017 on two counts of production of child pornography and pleaded guilty in February.

The 27-page plea agreement outlined Jones’ online conversations with six 14 and 15-year old girls between 2010 and 2017. The YouTuber told some victims the videos were for modelling opportunities where he would build their Instagram followings.

Jones admitted to using Facebook to convince minors to send him pornographic videos and pictures approximately 30 other times.

On May 3, US. District Judge John Z. Lee sentenced him 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,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine Neff Welsh said at the sentencing. “Jones’ actions took something from his victims and their families that they will never be able to get back.”

In one example of his behaviour used during the federal hearing, Jones messaged a 14-year-old asking for videos of her dancing sexually and referred to it as a “try out.” He would also request them to say specific things and directed their actions on-camera.

The girl ended up sending him 15 videos, including 10 where she exposed herself.

Prior to his arrest, Jones was already receiving backlash for his interactions with young fans.

Jones was set to play the 2015 Warped Tour until a Change.org petition was launched in response to his involvement. Fans also bombarded founder Kevin Lyman with messages to remove Jones. Lyman told AP at the time that he was investigating all of the YouTubers’ background before making a decision.

Shortly after, he made a video explaining how he used to ask viewers for twerking videos.

“Nothing ever went further than twerking videos,” he said. “There were never any nudes, never any physical contact.”

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