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YouTuber ProJared Accused of Soliciting Explicit Photos From Underage Fans

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  • 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.

ProJared Allegations

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.

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.”

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.”

The Blog

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.”

Response

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)

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Onision Calls 911 on Chris Hansen, Files Court Order

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  • YouTuber Onision, who has long been accused of predatory behavior, recently called 911 when journalist Chris Hansen showed up to his door. 
  • Hansen has been extensively covering the accusations against Onision, and Onision told the dispatcher he was his “internet stalker.”
  • No arrests were made once police arrived, but Onision has filed a court order against both Hansen and another YouTuber, Repzion, who has also been covering the allegations.
  • Hansen posted another video saying that he obtained police records showing that Onision’s daughter fell from a window and that Onision recorded the aftermath.

Court Order Filed 

YouTuber Onision is filing a court personal protection order against journalist Chris Hansen, who has been covering the series of accusations of grooming and predatory behavior levied against him.

Hansen said in a video on Monday that Onision, who is also known as Greg or James Jackson, filed the order in Washington state. Jackson also filed the order against YouTuber Repzion, or Daniel Sulzbach, who has also posted several videos about the long-standing allegations.

Many have claimed that Jackson, along with his partner Kai, grooms young women, often minors who are fans of his, to become sexually intimate with him once they turn 18. Others have also brought up potential cases of other inappropriate, predatory behavior. Several girls have spoken to Hansen on his YouTube channel to explain their claims. Some have described a system of control and manipulation, such as a list of rules Jackson and Kai force the girls to follow. 

Jackson has regularly denied the allegations. Rogue Rocket reached out to him to discuss them back in December. He asked for $10,000 in exchange for an interview. 

Hansen Attempts to Reach Out to Onision

This was not the first time Hansen had attempted to reach Jackson to hear his side of the story. Hansen has claimed that he too was asked for monetary compensation in order to ask Jackson questions. On January 13, he posted a video of the 911 call Jackson made when he knocked on his door in an attempt at a face-to-face conversation. 

In the call, Jackson refers to Hanson as an “internet stalker.” Hansen is seen standing outside of his door, knocking and sometimes speaking. He was accompanied by a camera crew and his attorney, Mike Morse. Police did arrive and no arrests were made. 

In another video Hansen uploaded about his trip to speak with Jackson, he said that it appeared that Jackson was no stranger to officers. 

“It quickly became clear that Greg was not unfamiliar to the local law enforcement authorities here,” Hansen explained to the camera in a video that has amassed over one million views.  “They were aware of his YouTube antics, the allegations of inappropriate contact with young women.”

He also added that Jackson declined to speak to him when given the opportunity, something Hansen noted was typical behavior in his experience investigating child predators. 

Hansen confirmed the court order in a video week later.

Police Report on Onision’s Child

In the video where Hansen explained the court order, he also gave a disturbing update he found in regards to Jackson and Kai’s children when working with police. 

“We’ve now obtained Pierce County Sheriff’s reports about a 911 call in September of 2019,” Hansen said. “According to the transcripts, Onision and Kai’s young daughter fell from a second story bedroom window landing in the driveway.” 

Hansen also added that this report notes that Jackson actually took a video of his young daughter in the driveway while she was injured, and panned up to the window that she fell from. As for the details of what happened, many have been sharing what appear to be screenshots of the records of the incident. Rogue Rocket requested the records, but has not received them yet, therefore we cannot confirm them. Some of the information in the screenshots shared does line up with what Hansen described in the video. 

One screenshot came from Good Citizens Records, which said they obtained the police report. They redacted information to protect Jackson’s daughter and said that the accident was in fact an accident.

According to the screenshots, the police had previously done welfare checks at Jackson’s home and they had received calls about him “possibly sexually abusing young girls.”

As for why he recorded his child in the aftermath of the fall, Jackson said he wanted to be able to show the doctor what happened. According to the screenshots,  Jackson referenced an event in 2011 when a friend allegedly threatened to kill herself and make it look like he did it, and he wanted the video to show police he was not responsible. The report calls this explanation “strange.”

Another unconfirmed screenshot goes into the details of the accident and the injury obtained from it. It appears his daughter suffered from skull fractures as a result of the fall. 

The fractures did not initially seem life-threatening, though that could rapidly change. Hansen said he will be covering more on this later in the week.

See what others are saying: (Newsweek) (Insider) (Mashable)

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Too Faced Co-Founder Condemns Sister’s Post Calling NikkieTutorials a Liar After Coming Out as Transgender

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  • Massive Beauty YouTuber NikkieTutorials came out as transgender in a new video that has been received with widespread praise.
  • However, fans were upset to learn that she was pushed to share her story after unnamed people threatened to leak the information to the press.
  • Too Faced Cosmetics then came under scrutiny when the cofounder’s sister made a snide comment about NikkieTutorials being a liar, continuing a long-running feud between the brand and beauty guru. 
  • The brand co-founder issued a statement condemning his sister’s behavior and said she is no longer employed by Too Faced.

Too Faced Apologizes

Too Faced Cosmetics co-founder Jerrod Blandino apologized Tuesday for his sister Lisa who called beauty YouTuber NikkieTutorials a liar hours after she came out as transgender.

“I would like to make sure it is understood that although I love my sister very much, the things she says or does have absolutely nothing to do with me and do not in any way reflect me, my opinions, thoughts, or feelings nor speak for me or Too Faced in any way shape or form,” Blandino wrote in a post on Instagram stories.

“I am sorry for the hurt she has caused…I do not tolerate this behavior and she is no longer an employee of Too Faced,” he added before expressing how proud he was of NikkieTutorials for sharing her truth.

His post was later shared across the brand’s official social media accounts.

“I’m Coming Out” 

The backlash against Too Faced came shortly after Nikkie de Jager, better known as NikkieTutorials, came out as transgender in an emotional 17-minute video posted Monday.

“I can’t believe I am saying this today to all of you, for the entire world to see, but damn it feels good to finally do it. It’s time to let go and be truly free,” de Jager said in the video titled “I’m Coming Out.”

“When I was younger I was born in the wrong body, which means that I am transgender,” she continued. 

The 25-year-old from the Netherlands, who has been posting on YouTube for 11 years, opened up about her childhood, explaining that she identified as female for as long as she can remember and began transitioning at a young age with the support of her mother.

De Jager said she had grown her hair out at the age of 6 and was wearing only girls clothing a year or two later. She started hormone treatments and growth stoppers at 14-years-old and “fully transitioned” by the age of 19. 

“I transitioned while on YouTube,” the beauty guru said. “And saying that right now seems so crazy to me because I have literally grown up and transformed into me in front of all of you.”

De Jager, one of YouTube’s top beauty creators who has amassed over 12 million subscribers, said she kept her story private for so long because she wanted to live free of labels and wanted her channel to focus on her art. 

However, she wanted to assure her fans that she is the same person they have loved and supported for years. “I am me. I am still Nikkie. Nothing changes about that,” she said. “The last thing I want in my life is for you to not trust me anymore, or to look at me with different eyes, or look at me in a different manner, or think that I have changed.”

Blackmail Attempt

While de Jager explained that she has always wanted to share her story with her audience, she admitted that she was doing so now after someone had threatened to pubically out her. 

“So today, I am taking back my own power and I have to tell you something,” she said before making her announcement.

Without ever naming who was behind the blackmail attempt, de Jager talked more about how it made her feel. 

“I have been blackmailed by people that wanted to leak my story to the press,” she said. “And at first it was frightening to know that there are people out there that are so evil that they can’t respect someone’s true identity. It is vile. It is gross and I know you are watching this.”

She claimed that those blackmailing her wanted to leak her story because they said she is lying and “too scared” to tell people who she really is. 

“I’m not scared,” she said directly to the camera before holding her middle finger up to the people who, “thought they could really mess up my life with that.” 

Praise from Fans 

De Jager’s announcement was met with widespread support from celebs, fans, and fellow YouTubers, many of whom were outraged at the fact that someone else had tried to leak her story.

Lisa Blandino Sparks Outrage

However, not everyone was supportive of the beauty guru. Twitter users and YouTube drama channels ready to defend de Jager against hate screenshotted a snide comment allegedly made by Lisa Blandino.

The screenshots showed that on her Instagram account @makupprincess, under the name Dani California, she changed her bio to: “Transgender huh? That’s not the only thing she’s been LYING about.”

Image
Source: @makupprincess

The comment appeared to signal a continuation of the long-running feud between the beauty star and Too Faced Cosmetics. 

In Shane Dawson’s docuseries about his collaboration with Jeffree Star Cosmetics, Star once again accused Too Faced of massively underpaying de Jager for her 2016 makeup collaboration with them. According to Star, she received a $50,000 flat fee for a palette that brought them in over $10 million.

While de Jagger has not openly discussed much about her profits on the palette, she has previously mentioned frustrations over the quality of the product.

After screenshots of Blandino’s comment spread across the internet, many became upset that someone would take such a sensitive moment as an opportunity to tear de Jager down and felt that regardless of any feud, the comment was insensitive.

Enraged social media users began calling Too Faced disgusting and transphobic and soon after, the @makupprincess account changed its bio to read: “Let’s be clear, I love trans people & dislike anyone who lies to hurt others! Period!”

Source: @makupprincess

The comment further enraged internet users went on to call for a boycott of the brand. Some even accused Too Faced of possibly being responsible for blackmailing de Jagger.

See what others are saying: (NBC News) (Insider) (E! News)

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Two of YouTube’s Highest Earners Are Kids

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  • Forbes released its annual list of top-earning YouTubers, placing 8-year-old Ryan Kaji at the top spot with $26 million and 5-year-old Nastya Radzinskaya at No. 3 with $18 million. 
  • The stars have brought new attention to the popularity of kids’ content on the platform just ahead of new policy changes that will impact ad revenue for it. 
  • Several familiar faces were also on the list, including Pewdiepie and Dude Perfect, however many were surprised to see Jake and Logan Paul edged out of the top 10.

Kids Earn Big 

Two of YouTuber’s highest-earning creators of 2019 are under the age of 10, according to the annual YouTube creator estimates from Forbes. 

8-year-old Ryan Kaji, star of the massively popular YouTube channel Ryan’s World (formerly Ryan ToysReview) earned himself the top spot for the second year in a row with an estimated $26 million, based on pretax figures from June 2018-June 2019. That’s a jump from the $22 million that put him at the top of last year’s list.

The second-biggest earner of the year is Dude Perfect, the sports entertainment group known for various trick shots, stunts, and battle videos. 

But 5-year-old Anastasia Radzinskaya is one creator on the list who is arguably turning the most heads. Radzinskaya, who moved to the U.S. from Russia in 2018, was born with cerebral palsy and doctors feared she might never be able to speak. To document her development through treatments, her parents decided to post videos of her so friends and family could watch her progress.

The videos started off as fairly ordinary child experiences like playdates with her dad or her pet cat, but she quickly gained a following from internet users all over the globe. Radzinskaya, who goes by Nastya or Stacy, now has a total of 107 million subscribers across her six different channels. Her most popular one, “Like Nastya Vlog” has 42 million alone. 

Nastya’s impressive following helped her bring in six-figure deals with brands like Legoland and Dannon, according to Forbes. Now she sits at No. 3 on their list with a whopping $18 million. 

Creators like Nastya and Ryan have opened people’s eyes to just how huge children’s content is on YouTube. Eyal Baumel, CEO of Yoola, a management company that specializes in digital stars including Nastya told Forbes, “YouTube is the most popular babysitter in the world.”

According to a Pew Research Center study done this year, videos with kids in them average almost three times as many views as other types of videos from high-subscriber channels. A separate study showed that 81% of parents with kids under 11 let them watch YouTube.

These young internet superstars, their parents, and the teams that represent them have made sure that their popularity transcends YouTube. Ryan for instance now has his own line of branded toys, clothing, and home goods that you can easily find at Target, Walmart, and Amazon. He also landed his own TV show on Nickelodeon and has a deal with Hulu to repackage his videos.

Nastya too will soon be launching a line of toys, a mobile game, and a book. 

Plans to expand to platforms outside of YouTube is probably a great idea of these child stars, especially as the potential for massive earnings on YouTube changes. In September, YouTube announced that it would be changing the way it displays ads on children’s content. 

The changes are meant to comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act after the Federal Trade Commission and New York Attorney General Letitia James accused YouTube of illegally collecting personal information from children to show them targeted ads.

YouTube said it will remove personalized ads on kids’ content starting next year, but now many creators are worried that, along with their income, the changes could also impact other factors, like search results and recommendations. Others feel the FTC has not been specific enough about what YouTube should consider child-directed content and are worried about the future of their content. 

Who Else Made the List? 

As far as the remaining top earners, the list includes a comedy duo, several gamers, and one beauty mogul. Here are the remaining creators who made the top 10. 

  • #4 Rhett and Link – $17.5 million
  • #5 Jeffree Star: $17 million
  • #6 Preston (Preston Arsement) $14 million
  • #7 (tie) Pewdiepie (Felix Kjellberg)  $13 million
  • #7 (tie) Markiplier (Mark Fischbach) $13 million 
  • #9 DanTDM (Daniel Middleton) $12 million 
  • #10 VanossGaming (Evan Fong) $11.5 million 

As some have pointed out, Jake and Logan Paul are notably not on this year’s list, both of whom made last year’s top 10. Jake’s absence was particularly surprising since the YouTuber held the No. 2 spot in 2018 with $21.5 million while his brother placed 10th with $14.5 million. 

However, the Paul brothers have earned themselves a reputation for controversy and both stopped daily vlogging in mid-2018 to pursue other projects, so that likely had a huge impact on their annual YouTube revenue. 

See what others are saying: (Business Insider) (Variety) (BBC)

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