A popular YouTube star has been arrested on child pornography charges, the Chicago Sun-Times confirmed this week. Austin Jones, who has more than 500,000 subscribers, is famous for his acapella covers of pop music. He has been charged with two counts of production of child pornography.
The 24-year-old is currently in federal custody and will appear in court on Wednesday for a bond hearing. Prosecutors are advocating for detention, arguing he's a risk to the community and may also flee.
Among other offenses, Jones pressured a girl into sending him sexually explicit videos to "prove" she was his biggest fan, prosecutors said. Jones allegedly requested explicit videos of young women's genitalia, knowing they were only 14 or 15 years old, according to court documents.
Two victims are described in the complaint, identified as Victim A and Victim B. Jones began corresponding with 14-year-old Victim A on Facebook in May 2017. He gave her detailed instructions: "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?'" He encouraged her to "talk about your age the whole time."
The second victim, also 14, communicated with Jones in August 2016. While pressuring her to create more videos for him, Jones wrote, "I'm just trying to help you! I know you're trying your hardest to prove you're my biggest fan. And I don't want to have to find someone else."
Jones admitted to investigators that he had directed girls to perform sexual acts on video and that he knew their ages.
If convicted, Jones will face a minimum of 15 years in prison. He was arrested Monday night at Chicago O-Hare Airport and "appeared timid as he was led into a federal courtroom Tuesday afternoon in an orange jumpsuit," the Sun-Times reported.