Tech and Media

YouTube star Austin Jones

YouTube star Austin Jones pleads guilty to production of child pornography after coercing underage fans to send him videos YouTube sensation Austin Jones, known online for original songs and covers, pleaded guilty Friday to pressuring
six female fans into sending him sexually explicit videos.

The 26-year-old Chicago singer, whose YouTube page boasts more than 500,000 subscribers, confessed to talking to 14- and 15-year-old girls online between 2010 and 2017, asking them for videos performing graphic sexual acts, according to the plea agreement. Part of his strategy was to tell the victims that they needed to prove that they were his biggest fans, referring to the vidoes as “tryouts.” Jones was allowed out on bond in order to continue counseling. The singer was arrested in June 2017 and charged with two counts of production of child pornography. Two years earlier, he defended himself after being publicly accused of lying about his age to trick the young girls. "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," he said in a since-deleted Facebook apology. "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. "We as people are not made stronger from our successes, but by the journey we take through mistakes and misfortunes back to the top of the mountain. And that is where I intend to be at the end of this. At the top of the mountain with a stronger sense of those who support me, a greater sense of self and a greater connection to my fans." Jones, who is due back in court on May 3, faces between five and 20 years in prison.