Austin Jones is a singer, songwriter, and YouTube star. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, however, he is now under arrest for federal charges and two counts of child pornography in his home state of Illinois.
This is not the first time Jones, 24, has faced allegations involving children and inappropriate videos. To learn more about the singer, his personal life, and his details surrounding his arrest, here are five fast facts you need to know.
1. Rumors About Jones’ Illegal Activity Surfaced in 2015
Jones has been making music professionally since 2007. His acapella cover of Rihanna’s hit single “Stay” brought him to the attention of pop listeners on YouTube, and he parlayed this exposure into large social media followings– particularly on YouTube and Vine. He released his debut EP We’ll Fall Together in July of 2014, which debuted at #34 on the Billboard Heatseekers Chart and #12 on the iTunes pop chart. His other renditions have amassed over 25 million views.
Despite this initial burst of success, Jones’ squeaky-clean image began to crumble in 2015, when allegations of his soliciting his younger fans for inappropriate videos became to surface. The earliest example of this is an article on the site PupFresh in May of 2015, which claimed that Jones asked “underage girls to twerk for him.”
2. He Addressed These Accusations In a Facebook Post
When the allegations involving his young fans began to increase, Jones released a lengthy statement on his Facebook page. He admitted to asking some of his fans to send him twerking videos, but adamantly denied there being anything else. “Nothing EVER went beyond that,” he wrote. You can read his full statement (which is no longer accessible from his Facebook) below:
“To my friends, fans and family,
I wanted to explain why I’ve been off of social media and have taken a break from my music.
I’ve been in therapy, seeking help to discover why I communicated with my fans in a way that I have come to fully realize was not appropriate.
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.”
Jones went on to acknowledge how “odd” the whole situation sounded, but again promised that he never meant to offend or hurt anyone in the process.
“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.
To those who have and will continue to support me, please know I never meant to let you down and I am doing everything I can–with the help of my family and friends–to pick myself back up and be a better person.
Thanks for believing in me. Please be good to each other and we’ll see each other soon.”
3. There Was a Petition to Kick Him Off the 2015 Vans Warped Tour
In spite of Jones’ apology, a petition was started online to kick him off the 2015 Vans Warped Tour. It was set up on the website Change.org, and came with a statement explaining the reasons he should be booted:
“As most of you know, Front Porch Step was removed from Warped Tour for asking for nudes from underage girls. Well, now we have another celebrity who girls from ages 12-18+ idolize. Austin Jones is now taking advantage of his fame. On numerous accounts, he has pressured girls as young as 13 into sending him videos of them twerking. As a 15 year old girl, I find this disgusting. I feel that Austin Jones should be taken off Warped Tour just as Jake McElfresh was.
These kind of actions are NOT okay and should not be taken lightly. As a future Warped Tour attendee, I would be very uncomfortable knowing someone as disgusting as him would be on Warped Tour in the same venue as a bunch of under age girls. Please take him off Warped. This is not the kind of publicity Warped should be promoting. Thank you.”
The petition had a goal of 10,000 supporters to get Jones kicked off the tour. As can be seen on the current page of the site, however, the petition ended up with 9,096 supporters– 994 shy of achieving their goal. Jones was subsequently allowed to finish the tour.
4. Several Girls Have Come Forward & Confirmed These Allegations
Several young girls have since come forward to allegedly offer proof that Jones was making advances toward them. Twitter user Brianna Lynn posted a text conversation with the caption “he didn’t even seem bothered by my age he just laughed.” The conversation alludes to something the couple did, with one text reading “we shouldn’t have done what we did.” Read the full conversation above.
Others who have come forth with information about Jones include Twitter user Emma, who, along with screenshots of their conversation, claimed that Jones asked her to send him a video of her twerking. “I was like 13,” she wrote in the caption. There is even a video circulating the internet where Jones instructs these young girls on “how to twerk.”
5. He Faces a Minimum of 15 Years in Prison if Convicted
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that if convicted, Jones will face a minimum of 15 years in prison. His bond bearing is scheduled for this Wednesday, as federal prosecutors are reportedly eager to get the hearing over as soon as possible, feeling that Jones is a “risk to the community” and said that there’s a danger he will flee if let out on bail. Both the paper and Sun-Times reporter Jon Seidel tweeted to confirm this.
Jones was arrested Monday night, according to The Chicago Sun-Times, where he was reportedly timid in his interactions with the police. A magistrate judge informed Jones that he will have to pay for his own defense lawyer in the case. There will be more details as the story develops.