Austin Jones, a 26-year-old YouTube singer from Illinois, was sentenced on Friday to 10 years in federal prison for soliciting child pornography. Over a course of several years, Jones, whose YouTube channel had 500,000 subscribers comprised primarily of teenaged girls, requested these young women send him explicit videos as proof of their fandom.
Friday’s sentence comes three months after Jones pleaded guilty to one count of receipt of child pornography. He was originally charged with two counts of the production of child pornography.
In 2015, Jones, known for his a cappella covers of pop songs, was kicked off the Vans Warped Tour, after several teenage girls began sharing evidence of Jones asking them to film twerking videos.
When Jones was removed from the tour, he released a “Setting the Record Straight” video on June 29, 2015. In the video, Jones admitted to allegations, claiming he’d begun undergoing therapy and was “better now.” No charges were made.
In 2017, Jones was arrested and charged with two counts of production of child pornography when two young girls accused him of coercing them into sending him explicit videos. Per a statement released by the United States Attorney’s Office Northern District of Illinois on February 1, 2019, Jones “…also told some of his victims that the videos were part of a modeling opportunity, and that he could assist them in gaining followers on the social media site Instagram, the plea agreement states.”
Four additional teen girls stepped forward with similar complaints. The United States Attorney’s Office Northern District of Illinois statement continues, “In addition to the six victims whom he enticed to send videos, Jones further admitted in the plea agreement that he used Facebook on approximately 30 other occasions to attempt to persuade minor girls to send him sexually explicit videos and photographs.” Jones’ actions took place in 2016 and 2017.
In February, Jones was released on $100,000 bond, barred from using the internet and social media and ordered on a 24-hour a day lockdown at his mother’s home in Chicago while he awaited trial.
On Friday, Jones’ 10-year sentence, to be served in a federal prison, was handed down by US. District Judge John Z. Lee.