Austin Jones (shown in the photo above) was a pop artist performer on YouTube whose fandom was mostly teenage girls. Jones has pled guilty to child porn, and may be headed to prison for coercing some of the teens who admired him to perform sexually explicit dances for him in live online chat sessions.
The Chicago Tribune's Megan Crepeau reports that Jones found his victims among his most devoted underage girl fans, and coerced some into performing sexually explicit dances during live online chat sessions after promising them modeling opportunities, Instagram fame, and his attention.
"ohmygoodness that's amazing!!" replied a victim when Jones told her she had "a lot of modeling potential."
On Friday, the U.S. attorney's office will seek an 11-year prison sentence for Jones, 26, in Chicago's federal court following his guilty plea in February to child pornography charges. The resident of west suburban Bloomingdale admitted he persuaded six underage girls — 14 to 15 at the time — to make sexually explicit videos for him while attempting to coerce as many as 30 others as well.
"He preyed on their youth, their vulnerabilities and most glaringly, their adoration of him, and he did it over and over again," prosecutors said in a court filing last week. "He coached the girls on what to wear, what to say, how to dance and what to do in the videos."
In asking for leniency, Jones' attorneys emphasized his own history as a victim, arguing his actions cannot be fully understood outside the context of a childhood "marred with abuse, pain, loss and death."
The defense seeks the minimum possible sentence of five years in prison in a court filing that lays out in graphic terms Jones' complicated past, including allegations of years of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of his alcoholic, cocaine-abusing father, now deceased, as well as the death of his sister at a young age.
"There can be no question that the systematic devastation of Mr. Jones' psyche at the hands of his father at such an impressionable age helped create the conditions in which Mr. Jones acted in the manner that he did," wrote attorneys Terrence LeFevour and David Gaeger.