- Multiple people have accused YouTuber Jared “ProJared” Knabenbauer of sending and requesting sexually explicit pictures from fans, including at least two people who were underage at the time.
- The accusations surfaced after Knabenbauer’s wife, Heidi O’Ferrall, said that he had been abusive and said that he had been “soliciting nudes from his fans for years.”
- The creator collective Knabenbauer belonged to, NormalBoots, said in a statement that they were first informed of the allegations on April 4, which prompted them to start an investigation and eventually cut ties with Knabenbauer.
- Knabenbauer has lost more than 200,000 subscribers since the allegations were made public.
Popular YouTube gamer Jared “ProJared” Knabenbauer has been accused of sending and soliciting sexually explicit pictures from his fans, including at least two individuals who were underage.
The allegations first came to light on Wednesday when Knabenbauer, who had over one million YouTube subscribers, announced in a statement on Twitter that he was divorcing his wife, cosplayer Heidi O’Ferrall.
O’Ferrall responded in a series of tweets accusing Knabenbauer of cheating on her and repeatedly lying about it. She claimed that he “gaslit” her for months and acted abusively.
He told his friends a version of events that omits his infidelity and portrays me as an aggressive and unreasonable person. As though I’m randomly angry and upset all the time, for no reason at all.— Heidi O’Ferrall✨ (@AtelierHeidi) May 9, 2019
It’s because he’s abusing me.
In a separate post, O’Ferrall also said that Knabenbauer “has been soliciting nudes from his fans for years.”
“I used to think that among consenting adults, it was fine,” she wrote on Twitter. “Now I see it as an abuse of power for him to intentionally manipulate anyone to show him their naked body on the basis that he’s a popular internet man.”
I used to think that among consenting adults, it was fine. Now I see it as an abuse of power for him to intentionally manipulate anyone to show him their naked body on the basis that he’s a popular internet man.— Heidi O’Ferrall✨ (@AtelierHeidi) May 9, 2019
I would like to apologize for my role in enabling this.
Others Come Forward
Following O’Ferrall’s post, several others came forward to share their experiences, with some saying that he would often send them explicit pictures that were unsolicited.
Those who came forward included at least two people who claim that they were underage at the time of their interactions with Knabenbauer. One fan, who goes by Chai, tweeted details, but later set his Twitter account to private.
“ProJared sexually manipulated me via Tumblr when I was 16,” Chai wrote, according to a reuploaded screenshot of his post. “I sent him many actual, real nudes. He knew I was 16.”
Chai also said that he sent lewd pictures to ProJared’s blog “with the explicit instruction ‘do not post this online. I’m 16.’ He posted them anyway.”
Chai noted in his statement that he had another friend who was also underage and “had been manipulated in the same way,” Chai said this individual was planning on coming forward.
Shortly after, a user who goes by Charlie came forward with a story similar to Chai’s. In a Twitter thread, Charlie shared a statement of their experience with Knabenbauer and provided screenshots of their conversations.
In the statement, Charlie writes that they were a “really big fan of ProJared” when they were “around the same age as Chai (15-16).” Charlie said that Knabenbauer asked fan’s on his Tumblr account to send naked pictures, noting that the blog was “in no way age restricted.”
“Jared is a grown man, I’m sure he understands that a significant chunk of his audience are middle and high schoolers,” Charlie wrote. “An open invitation to send him nudes is oddly predatory […] especially when there is a risk for minors (again, a good portion of his following) sending nudes.”
Charlie then goes on to say that they eventually sent Knabenbauer naked pictures.“He messaged me and thanked me and told me I was beautiful,” Charlie wrote. “I don’t think he ever asked for my age.”
Since Chai and Charlie made their statements, others have come forward to talk about the Tumblr blog Knabenbauer created to send and share explicit pictures with his fans.
Rogue Rocket spoke to a Twitter user who goes by Bren, who told us they never interacted with Knabenbauer personally, but described themself as a witness to the blog. Bren said they found Knabenbauer’s blog in group chat for the game “Asagao Academy.”
“I remember that a handful of people in the group chat were into the blog, many were minors,” Bren said. “I would say that him creating the whole blog was incredibly manipulative. His fan base was made up of so many underage fans.”
Bren described how Knabenbauer would refer to his fans who submitted naked pictures as “sinners.”
“Two adults wouldn’t say they’re ‘sinning’ when sharing nudes, but a teenager who hasn’t had the chance to explore their sexuality might have that view,” Bren said. “So to me, all of the talk about sinning and sinners felt like he was well aware that there was a large gap in the levels of sexual experience between him and his fans, and I think he got off to this idea of him, a 30 something year old man, being “naughty” and “sinful” with people half his age.. essentially grooming a whole group of fans.”
“Not to mention the power dynamic between a famous Youtuber and his audience, which is only amplified when much of that audience is underage,” Bren continued. “So when he was asking for nudes on his tumblr, it only made sense that his underage fans would answer that call.”
Bren’s experience was echoed by a person who goes by Asa, who spoke to The Daily Beast about their experience messaging Knabenbauer.
“I was freshly 18, and I had absolutely no romantic or sexual experiences,” Asa said. “He asked if I was over 18, and I said yes, mentioning that my birthday was scarcely a few months prior. He said that he was honored I would want to ‘use’ my newfound legality with him.”
Asa also claimed that it was “barely a secret” that underage people were interacting with Knabenbauer blog, adding, “I know a few of my friends had taken their ages off of their page so that Jared couldn’t verify that they were under 18.”
In response to the allegations, NormalBoots, the creator collective that Knabenbauer is a part of, posted a statement on Twitter, saying that they had been informed of the allegations in an email a month prior.
“On April 4, 2019, an unsolicited e-mail was sent to the NormalBoots business account containing allegations of inappropriate conduct pertaining to Jared Knabenbauer,” the statement said. “Upon receiving the e-mail, NormalBoots Manager, Jacque Khalil took immediate action to alert the appropriate parties, including Mr. Knabenbauer and the NormalBoots legal team, of the allegations. No other members of NormalBoots were made aware of the allegations while the investigation into the allegations was ongoing.”
The statement goes on to say that NormalBoots had planned to terminate their relationship with Knabenbauer before the allegations were made public, but have since “mutually agreed to part ways.”
In a Twitter post, Chai said that he and Charlie sent the email to NormalBoots, and shared a screenshot of the email the two received from them.
Knabenbauer himself has yet to make a statement, but many of his fans and others in the community have started to distance themselves from him. According to SocialBlade, Knabenbauer’s YouTube channel lost more than 100,000 subscribers in the first 24 hours after the allegations came out alone. Since then, he has lost a total of more than 200,000 followers.
Other gamers creators have also been distancing themselves from Knabenbauer as well, like popular creator collective Game Grumps, which has started deleting videos that Knabenbauer appeared in.
The accusations against Knabenbauer represents part of the broader problem of popular YouTubers using their position to prey on underage fans. Just two weeks ago, famous YouTuber Austin Jones was sentenced to ten years in federal prison for soliciting sexually explicit photos from multiple underage fans, some of whom were as young as 14.
Updates: This article was originally posted on May 10, but has been updated to include statements from Bren and Asa, the correct pronouns for Charlie, and updated records of ProJared’s subscriber loss as of May 14.
See what others are saying: (The Daily Beast) (The Verge) (Kotaku)
Ace Family’s Austin McBroom and Team Accused of Rape
- YouTuber Cole Carrigan posted a video where he claimed his friend and another woman were sexually assaulted by Austin McBroom, his basketball player friend, and his father.
- McBroom is part of the Ace Family, which has over 17 million subscribers on YouTube.
- Carrigan’s video also included screenshots to show that the women had met with McBroom, along with a photo of blood on the bedsheets after alleged forced penetration, and an anonymous phone call with one of the alleged victims.
- The story prompted #AceFamilyisOverParty to trend on Twitter. McBroom addressed the situation himself online denying the allegations and claiming he is a victim of extortion, defamation, and slander.
Accusations in Video
Family vlogger and patriarch of the Ace Family Austin McBroom, his father, and other acquaintances, have been accused of sexual assault in a new video posted by YouTuber Cole Carrigan.
Carrigan uploaded a 15-minute video titled “The Truth About The Ace Family..” on Monday. He opened by discussing the recent rumors about McBroom cheating on his wife, Catherine Paiz, before saying the allegations go further than just infidelity.
Carrigan claimed that his friend and another woman were assaulted by McBroom and several people he knew. He claimed he was making the video on behalf of them because they signed an NDA and because it is difficult to bring allegations forward against a prominent man.
According to Carrigan, the two girls had been drinking when they went back to their room to change. McBroom, his security guard, father, and two friends followed them back.
“Obviously I don’t have recordings of what went down in the room,” Carrigan said, “but my friend told me that she repeatedly said ‘no’ multiple times over and over to the point where she started crying and begging them to stop. That’s when they forced themselves in her and I will insert the photos of the blood all over the bedsheets in the hotel room right here.”
He included a photo that showed bloodstains on sheets as potential evidence that the intercourse was forced.
He also called his friend so she could tell her story, though she was not named and her voice was distorted to hide her identity. She also said that she and another woman had walked to their room and that the group had followed them there.
She claimed that the guys were being flirty, but she and the other girl were too under the influence to push them off.
She said that one of McBroom’s friends had sex with her without her consent and that McBroom’s father tried to force her to perform oral sex.
“But the next thing I remember is, unfortunately, being on the bed and his NBA player friend was having sex with me,” she said. “I don’t ever remember giving him consent to. The next thing I remember is looking up and Austin’s dad Allen is there and I am seeing him unbuckle his pants, pull down his pants, and pull out his penis in front of my face, basically wanting me to suck his penis.”
She went on to say that around then, the security guard walked in and she went to check in on her friend.
“All of a sudden I hear her yelling ‘no’ and screaming and crying,” she said. “And all of the guys start rushing around the room because my friend is literal hysterical crying and sobbing and she’s just sitting in the shower. Then after that we just got in bed and we were just crying for the rest of the night.”
Carrigan’s video also included several screenshots to show that his friends had met with McBroom. There were screenshots that show McBroom and his father in Miami on June 21, the night before the incident.
There were also screenshots of texts Carrigan claims were sent the following morning. The first was to one of McBroom’s friends, where the girls seemed disinterested in communicating. The video alleges that the two girls had been hiding in their room when they first received the messages.
Another showed one of the girls reaching out to her ex in Miami and beginning to explain the situation.
Carrigan also showed screenshots of his friend allegedly texting McBroom about what girls he wanted to be brought to Miami.
Another screenshot allegedly showed McBroom’s assistant telling Carrigan’s friend to not let the story out because there could be “serious consequences.”
There were also screenshots Carrigan said came from girls who told him they had their own inappropriate interactions with McBroom. In one, it appears someone is accusing McBroom of impregnating them. These allegations are unverified.
The video ended up generating a lot of online chatter, with #AceFamilyIsOverParty trending on Twitter. Many used the hashtag to express their disgust in the story.
More also shared screenshots of their alleged encounters with McBroom.
While some shared them online, others doubted their legitimacy. Paiz tweeted that she did not know who was worse: “The person who photoshops conversations OR the people who believe it?” She accompanied this tweet with what appears to be a fake interaction between her and Kanye West.
Another screenshot that, again, is unverified allegedly came from one of the girls in the story, Leslie. Users said she had posted her side of the story to Instagram before deleting it.
She posted a notes app message where she discusses Carrigan’s video, which she says was made with ill intent, and also identifies the other alleged victim in it as Amanda.
“I feel like this video was made for the wrong reasons and this wasn’t Cole’s story to tell,” she wrote. “Cole even texted me saying we could potentially get paid $100,000 from this following the claim that Drama alert was payed off $500k.”
This refers to Carrigan claiming that Drama Alert’s Keemstar was going to post a video on the topic but was paid $500,000 not to. Keemstar denies this and posted his own video on Tuesday.
Leslie went on to say that McBroom did not rape her and was not to blame.
“I wasn’t aware Amanda or Cole were in contact with drama alert to anonymously run our story,” the alleged post continued. “But I was aware of Cole’s video being made, and I only wanted it to be factual if it was ever going to be posted. I wanted to say that Austin McBroom is not to blame in the situation and did not rape me or anyone. I’m currently handling this situation in my own way. I brought this to social media to address false accusations. This isn’t what I wanted, there’s several sides to every story and this isn’t how I wanted to tell mine.”
The post also included a screenshot of what appears to be a text from Carrigan saying they could be paid $100,000 not to tell the story and that they could all split it.
On Tuesday morning, McBroom responded to the allegations. He shared Leslie’s screenshots and released a statement claiming he was a “victim of extortion, defamation, and slander.”
“I knew this was a cold world but never did I foresee something this disturbing upon me,” he wrote. “Thank you to all of my Ace Family members for all of your concerns and thank you to those who know my character and my heart. I don’t wish this upon anyone and I can only hope that those responsible for this learn from their mistakes and become better people. My family and I dealing with this matter privately and taking legal action. Bullying, extortion, slander and defamation of charterer is something I will not stand for and I can promise that justice will be served.”
See what others are saying: (Newsweek) (Distractify) (Daily Dot)
Following Ninja Deal, Gamers Flock to Mixer but Viewership Falls, According to New Data
- Following Mixer’s exclusive acquisition of Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, a new report shows that the number of unique channels on the platform has nearly doubled, but viewership has fallen.
- In contrast, Blevins’ former platform Twitch has gained viewership but seen a decrease in channels and number of hours streamed.
- Last week, Blevins’ wife and manager, said he made the decision to move to Mixer because his chatroom on Twitch became “toxic” and because Twitch’s contract with him would have limited his licensing deals.
Mixer’s Growth Since Ninja Deal
A new report shows some of the contributions Ninja’s exclusive streaming deal with Mixer may have generated, including a major increase in the number of streamers and content on the platform, though overall views have decreased.
Ninja — whose real name is Tyler Blevins — joined the platform in August after leaving Twitch, a move that sent shockwaves through the gaming community, with many wondering how the switch would affect not only Blevins’ career but also Twitch and Mixer.
The report, published by Streamlabs and Newzoo, found that the number of unique channels on Mixer had doubled from 1.96 million in the second quarter to 3.92 million when Blevins joined in the third quarter.
Streamlabs attributed the massive gain to Blevins’s relocation to the platform, which it said likely encouraged other gamers to make a similar switch.
Because of the influx of new streamers, the number of hours users streamed on Mixer tripled from 11 million hours to just under 33 million.
Even though the number of streamers skyrocketed, Streamlabs actually reported that Mixer lost viewership in its third quarter, dropping from 100 million hours watched to 90 million hours watched.
Since 2018, Mixer has consistently risen in viewership, with this quarter tracking the only dropoff within the past two years. Nonetheless, the yearly growth for Mixer has more than doubled. Experts have also noted the third quarter is usually the weakest part of the year for streaming platforms.
Metrics for Twitch and YouTube Gaming
Conversely, the Streamlabs report found that Twitch suffered the opposite problem: gaining viewership but losing streamers and content.
Many have attributed Twitch’s loss of streamers in Q3 partially to those users moving to Mixer following its deal with Blevins; however, Twitch has been losing users for two quarters now. Since Q1, Twitch has actually lost about 2 million streamers and now sits below Mixer at 3.77 million users.
Twitch currently still dominates the streaming community, however, logging 2,551 million hours viewed for Q3.
Regarding users and hours streamed, YouTube Gaming has also seen a dropoff since Mixer’s acquisition of Blevins, but the number of hours viewed on the platform remained relatively unaffected between quarters.
The Mixer-Ninja Deal
While the report indicates Blevins may not have had a substantial impact on bringing viewers to Mixer, it is unlikely his deal with the platform will change because of that.
In an interview with Business Insider last week, Ninja’s wife and manager — Jessica Blevins — discussed why he decided to move to Mixer. She said part of his decision stemmed from toxicity in Blevins’ chatroom while streaming.
“I could tell, as his wife, the last few months on Twitch, he just didn’t seem like the Ninja that I knew,” she told the news agency, “He didn’t seem as enthusiastic, as loud, as hyped-up about wins and motivated to stream. It really seemed like he was kind of losing himself and his love for streaming.”
She also said they had tried to make a deal with Twitch but said they felt like they weren’t being listened to. She specifically pointed to the fact that Twitch’s contract would have limited Ninja’s licensing deals.
She then went on to say that Microsoft aligned with their ideals, calling it a warm and friendly environment.
See what others are saying: (Dexerto) (Digital Trends) (The Esports Observer)
Trisha Paytas Accused of Exploiting Transgender Community
- Trisha Paytas posted a vlog titled “I AM TRANSGENDER (FEMALE TO MALE)” and specifically claimed to identify as a gay man. In the video, Paytas said: “So do I think I’m transgender? Yes. 1,000 percent. Do I identify with my natural-born gender? 1,000 percent.”
- Among the reasons listed for coming to this realization, Paytas included not wearing makeup every day, not having a ton of female friends, being attracted to gay men, and having “penis envy.”
- Paytas received backlash from people who said the video dangerously equated gender stereotypes to gender identity and accused the YouTuber of trolling people for clicks.
- Paytas apologized for the wording in the video, and added that the intent behind it was sincere. The YouTuber claimed that this has been an ongoing journey since childhood and that a therapist is currently helping with it.
Paytas Posts Video
Trisha Paytas’ latest vlog titled “I AM TRANSGENDER (FEMALE TO MALE)” has landed the YouTuber into a pool of criticism, with many saying the video exploits the transgender community for attention.
Paytas opened Monday’s video by talking about being called names in school for having masculine features. The YouTube star also claimed to never love being a woman and described feeling most empowered when wearing masculine clothes and short hair. Paytas then claimed to identify as a man, specifically, a gay man.
“Here’s the thing, I identify with men better,” Paytas said. “People always think there’s something wrong with me because I don’t have that many girlfriends. Like, I love girls, I do love girls and I love their sensitivity and stuff like that but that’s why identify more as a gay man because I like guys but I also identify as a guy if that makes sense.”
Paytas added that the one hang up in coming to this conclusion was loving glam and getting dolled up. Paytas then compared this identity to that of a drag queen.
“So, in my head, I feel like I am a transgender female to male, but also a drag queen. That’s how I’ve rationalized it in my head,” Paytas added.
Paytas then listed several reasons for making the announcement. This list included not loving being the center of attention unless specifically seeking it, not wanting to wear make-up on a day-to-day basis, being attracted to gay men, and having a distaste for straight men’s masculinity.
Paytas also talked about feeling “penis envy.”
“And then the final thing that kind of brings it full, I feel transgender almost is I’ve always had penis envy,” Paytas explained. “Like, this sounds so crazy to say out loud. I just always thought my life would be easier if I had that part. That if I asserted myself I wouldn’t be a bitch, but like, a man.”
As far as pronouns, Paytas never specifically declared what to use going forward. However, Paytas did say that they/them pronouns are “confusing.”
“That sounds like plural people,” Paytas commented. “And while people think I am schizophrenic or have multiple personalities, I choose not to identify as multiple personalities.”
The YouTuber continued to talk about gender fluidity and the idea that someone can feel male one day and a female the next, noting that this should be more widely accepted. Paytas also added that the intent behind this video is sincere and not to offend the trans community.
“I know that’s such a misconception, that transgender people are confused,” Paytas said. “And it’s not that I’m confused it’s that I identify as both. I just don’t necessarily like the term they or them.”
“So do I think I’m transgender? Yes. 1000% Do I identify with my natural-born gender? 1000%,” Paytas added.
Video Gets Backlash
This video generated widespread backlash because people thought it could do a lot of harm to the trans community. Some were worried that Paytas was trolling to get more views, while others were just upset with the way the video presented the idea of being trans.
Pride.com wrote a piece on the video, noting some of the specific ways Paytas’ rational could be dangerous.
“While we’re always happy to support someone’s coming out journey, there’s a lot of problematic things to unpack with Trisha’s latest vlog,” the post read.
“The likes of which include: The fact that they don’t wear makeup or do their hair every day, which must mean they’re trans; That they’re “not catty” like “most women; Their attraction to gay men must mean they themselves are a gay man.”
“As many of us know, there’s more to being transgender than hair and makeup,” the article continues.
Many others were also afraid that Paytas was equating gender-based stereotypes to gender identity, and conflating this idea with a sexual attraction to gay men.
“Every single reason she gave for being trans was 100% invalid, offensive, & stereotype driven,” one user wrote.
“Just because you were a tomboy, don’t wear makeup, and have a fetish for gay men doesn’t mean your trans,” said another.
Drag queen Vicky Vox accused Paytas of using gender identity for clickbait.
Others did attempt to be more sympathetic with their criticism. YouTuber Jake Edwards acknowledged that some of Paytas’ language could be harmful, but said people should still not turn to sending hate.
This should be met with allowing Trisha the space to learn,” Edwards wrote.
YouTuber Gigi Gorgeous said she talked on the phone with Paytas after being incredibly confused by the video. While Gigi did think some of the comments were problematic, she still said she wanted to respect Paytas’ identity, transition, and journey.
“I firmly believe that someone tells you who they are, what their label is, how they want to be identified, you have to believe that person,” she said in a response video.
Trisha Responds to Backlash
Paytas did respond to some of the backlash that the video received.
“You don’t know me, my journey , my struggle, my transition,” Paytas wrote in response to Vox. “I’ve been with a gender identity therapy specialist for the past 6 months cause I hated who I was since I was 3.”
You don’t know me, my journey , my struggle, my transition. I’ve been with a gender identity therapy specialist for the past 6 months cause I hated who I was since I was 3. Think before you tweet , THIS is more harmful than me sharing my story.— Trisha Paytas (@trishapaytas) October 7, 2019
Paytas also clarified that this was not meant to be a joke.
It’s not meant to be funny. Because I don’t look like a traditional male on the outside , I’m a joke ? Men can wear dresses , heels and makeup u know. Close minded and ignorant— Trisha Paytas (@trishapaytas) October 7, 2019
Paytas also took to Instagram to further address the widespread responses.
“I’m sorry that offended you but that is my truth and my reality that I have been facing,” Paytas wrote in an Instagram story. “It’s honest and it’s the difficulty I’m facing while transitioning. People don’t have the right to be offended by my truth. Men reject me because I’m too feminine. It’s not fair but it’s my reality and it’s my struggle that I’m going through.”
It has put me in a severe depression. I’m sorry,” Paytas added. “You don’t know my struggle. What I face may not be the same for other [female to male] but its what I have to hear and deal with on the regular for years.”
Paytas Posts Apology Video
On Tuesday morning Paytas posted another video called “apology.” In it, the YouTuber mentioned Gigi and her video, and said that their phone call was very impactful. Paytas also added that the backlash the video received was not expected, as the intent behind it was genuine. Paytas claimed that this has been an ongoing struggle since childhood that a therapist has been helping with.
“I hated my breasts. I hated my vagina,” Paytas explained. “I hated going into the female bathroom. I hated being classified as a female. I hated being told to play with barbies and stuff like that.”
Paytas then apologized for any offense the video may have caused.
“I’m sorry if I offended people with my language and the way I said things,” Paytas said. “I’m so new to all of this. I’m so new to it.”
“I would never mock a community that I’ve loved and has loved me and has been so open and accepting to me,” Paytas added. “I would never mock them, I would never do that disservice to myself.”