- 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)
Triller Sues H3 Podcast for $50 Million Over Jake Paul Vs. Ben Askren Fight
- Triller is suing Ethan and Hila Klein’s H3 Podcast for $50 million, alleging that the YouTubers unlawfully broadcasted its boxing match between Jake Paul and Ben Askren on their show.
- The video-sharing platform previously filed a larger lawsuit against several outlets, including H3 Productions, for the same reason, but a court dropped the majority of the defendants from that suit, still giving room for Triller to refile against each platform individually.
- Triller did not specifically cite when the H3 Podcast aired the fight; however, Ethan gave a statement to Rogue Rocket claiming his utilization of clips from the event fall under fair use copyright laws.
- “It’s a huge media company trying to suppress fair use and undo everything we worked for [with the] Matt Hoss case,” he said, referencing a landmark fair use case he previously won.
H3 Podcast Sued for $50 Million
Video sharing and streaming platform Triller filed a $50 million lawsuit against the H3 Podcast on Monday, accusing the show of unlawfully airing its April 17 boxing match between Jake Paul and Ben Askren.
H3 Productions, owned by YouTubers Ethan and Hila Klein, was previously included in a massive lawsuit Triller filed against a number of platforms for the same reason; however, a court dismissed all but one of the defendants, FilmDaily.com, from that case. The court did give Triller room to refile against each outlet individually, prompting this new suit against H3.
The podcast is being accused of copyright infringement, conversion, violations of the Federal Communications Act, and violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, according to the complaint filed in the Central District of California
Ethan Klein previously denied broadcasting the fight but did admit to watching an already available pirated link.
What’s in the Complaint?
Triller said that H3 “acted knowingly, willfully, unlawfully and with blatant disregard to Plaintiff’s copyright in the Broadcast by uploading” the boxing match to YouTube. The company claims it “never authorized its respective copying, downloading, uploading, public display and/or distribution of the Broadcast,” but that H3 “continues to engage—and unjustly benefit—from its infringing conduct.”
“Defendant’s calculated and reprehensible infringement, theft, and other unlawful acts—committed in knowing violation of the law—has resulted in damages suffered by Plaintiff in excess of $50,000,000.00, by stealing and diverting upwards of 1,000,000 unique viewers of the illegal and unauthorized viewings of the Broadcast from Plaintiff,” the complaint says.
The lawsuit does not specify when H3 aired the fight, but on an April 22 episode of the H3 Podcast, Ethan did briefly play the knockout from the event while giving commentary. During an April 25 episode of H3 After Dark, Ethan and Hila also played clips of Pete Davidson hosting the showdown. Neither episode aired the entirety of the event.
Ethan Klein Responds To Complaint
“It’s fair use,” Ethan said in a statement to Rogue Rocket. “Read their complaint. It’s 1mil x 50 dollars per [view.] It’s literally a fair use lawsuit and anything else is just a distortion.”
The couple previously won a landmark fair use case against YouTuber Matt Hoss. That case stemmed from the Kleins using footage from one of Hoss’ videos to make their own video response and commentary. Hoss argued this was copyright infringement. A judge ultimately sided with the Kleins, who believe Triller is aiming to reverse the progress their previous case made.
“It’s a huge media company trying to suppress fair use and undo everything we worked for [with the] Matt Hoss case,” Ethan said.
Still, a Triller spokesperson gave a comment to Insider saying the company is “confident” in its legal pursuits.
“We are confident H3 will be settling and paying a substantial penalty (in the millions) in order to avoid the $50 million+ liability,” the spokesperson said. “People can try to joke about it, but it is stealing, no ifs, ands or buts about it.”
See what others are saying: (Insider) (Torrent Freak)
James Charles Breaks Silence Over Lawsuit From Former Employee
- YouTuber James Charles posted a video on Monday claiming he has been dealing with a wrongful termination lawsuit from a former employee for two years.
- He said her claims are not true, but he is refusing to settle for the “hundreds of thousands of dollars” she is asking for because he feels he is being “blackmailed.”
- He claims the former employee is making “defamatory” allegations about him to the press in an attempt to push him to settle for a higher amount.
- Insider reporter Kat Tenbarge later posted a tweet suggesting she is working on the story and that it will come out “soon.”
James Charles Addresses Lawsuit
Beauty influencer James Charles posted a seven-minute-long video on Monday claiming he has been dealing with a wrongful termination lawsuit from a former employee for two years and feels cornered into speaking out about the situation.
James, who has been taking a social media break for the last several weeks following a series of sexual misconduct allegations, broke his silence to share his side of the story. He said this is his first time publicly speaking about the matter because the litigation is ongoing. However, he feels he has to speak out now because he says that the former employee is speaking negatively about him to the press and he feels he is being “blackmailed.”
Reports have identified this former employee as Kelly Rocklein. James said he hired her first as an editor and then promoted her to a producer with a salary of $72,000 a year, but she was let go after six months. He says the allegations in the lawsuit he filed are false.
“It basically alleges that she was wrongfully terminated, overworked, and underpaid, all of which are not true,” he said before adding that to him, his employees are “family.”
According to James, the suit is worth far more than lost wages and totals hundreds of thousands of dollars. While he claimed these kinds of suits are common in the entertainment industry, he said they rarely make it to court because they are so long and expensive and usually result in a settlement. James, however, said he refuses to settle.
James Says He is Being Pressured to Settle
James said he was contacted to give a comment for an upcoming article about what it is like to work for him. He claimed the former employee was making “defamatory” and ridiculous comments about him, which he believes are an attempt to pressure him into a higher settlement offer.
“These claims range everything from, I was so lazy she had to force me to get out of my bed and brush my teeth, and without her I would have never made a single video or a single dollar,” James said. “And other things that are much more serious and disgusting such as that I used to say the n-word around her all the time.”
James added that the last claim is “perfect timing” because a Twitter account he has not used since 2016 was allegedly hacked recently and posted a tweet using the n-word.
James said he knows the employees allegations would go away if he just agreed to settle, but he does not want to do that.
“Contrary to popular belief, I have never ever paid anybody to speak or to not speak about me and this will not be the first time that I do it,” he stated. “It just won’t.”
James said he feels no choice but to fully pursue this legally and felt compelled to post this video in the meantime as the situation remains in the court of public opinion, which is already falling out of his favor. He also said he did not want his fans to be blindsided when the upcoming article is published because he knows it will not look good on his part.
Insider Reporter Tweets About Upcoming Article
In April, Rocklein tweeted something that appeared to be about James and the misconduct allegations against him.
“Watching the same people who screwed me over massively end up in deep scandals isn’t news to me, it’s karmic debt,” she wrote.
She also previously posted another tweet that seemingly referenced her lawsuit against James, as well as a lawsuit she allegedly won against internet personality Erika Costell.
“Won 1, going 2 for 2 because im all about law and order,” she said.
Insider reporter Kat Tenbarge, who broke the story involving a rape allegation against the Vlog Squad’s Dom Zeglaitis, responded to James’ video in a series of now-deleted tweets. She shared his video and said, “Absolutely not, story coming soon.”
“Literally cannot believe this,” she continued. “Okay, well, yeah. You paid your creative director $72k. AFTER a raise. We’ll start there, since you’re the one putting it out! More soon.”
“BLACKMAIL is a criminal allegation, and a really crazy and stupid one to make.”
After taking those posts down, she shared a new tweet saying “We’re reporting everything out. Story will be coming soon!” That post was retweeted by Rocklein.
See what others are saying: (MTV News Australia) (Just Jared) (Daily Dot)
Tana Mongeau Seemingly Defends Talent Agency After Backlash
- YouTuber Tana Mongeau officially launched an influencer management division on Monday called Tana’s Angel’s Agency.
- She wrote on Instagram that she is regularly asked for advice about how to build a following on platforms like OnlyFans and said this new venture will allow her to help people break into the business.
- Mongeau quickly faced backlash from those who believe she is not qualified to teach people how to build an audience from the ground up and from others who think the agency is a “scam.”
- In response, Mongeau said she “hired an amazing team” of successful people and will only sign creators “that I truly feel I can benefit, and that I believe in & resonate with.”
Tana Mongeau Launches Management Division
YouTuber Tana Mongeau launched an influencer management agency on Monday named Tana’s Angels Agency.
The division is part of Unruly Agency, a social media marketing and management company owned by Tara Electra, who will be leading the launch alongside Mongeau and her manager, David Weintraub. Mongeau said she wants to use the agency to help aspiring content creators because when she was just starting out, she could have benefited from a mentor.
“Throughout my career I’ve been taken advantage of more times than I can count,” she previously told Us Weekly.”I am starting TAA to teach people how to not make the mistakes I made early on in my career.”
In a Monday Instagram post, Mongeau wrote that she regularly gets messages from people asking for advice about how to get started and make money on platforms like OnlyFans. Mongeau said that by starting this agency, she can now use her “experiences, platform, connections, knowledge and creativity” to help these small creators find her same success. She also said that the same people who helped her make millions of dollars on OnlyFans will be part of the TAA team.
“I brought on those people to TAA to finally be able to share their expertise, marketing knowledge, and much more with authentic creators I believe in- big, small, or starting today,” she wrote.
TAA Receives Backlash
However, this pursuit has not come without a fair amount of backlash. Many people have shared Mongeau’s tweet announcing TAA and criticized her for the venture. Among other things, many believe she is not qualified to teach people how to build a following from the ground up because she was already famous when she started her OnlyFans.
Others accused her of taking advantage of OnlyFans users and sex workers who are already struggling enough, while others accused her of being a pimp and running a scam.
Mongeau seems to be aware of some of this criticism, as she joked in a tweet early on Tuesday saying, “Someone commented ‘how she gon have a talent agency with no talent’ on my post i’m screaming.”
She then further explained the intent behind TAA.
“I hired an amazing team of lots of individuals who have helped me earn millions on OF and with other opportunities to help me alongside this project. I’m also only signing people onto Tana‘s Angels that I truly feel I can benefit, and that I believe in & resonate with.”
The backlash also does not seem to be slowing her down. Mongeau said that within the first 10 hours of the launch, 100,000 people applied to be part of TAA.