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Crime Explainers

5 Things to Know About YouTuber Austin Jones and His Child Pornography Charges

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YouTube singer Austin Jones was arrested this week and charged with two counts of producing child pornography after he allegedly had two 14-year-old female fans send him sexually explicit videos over social media.

Jones, 24, is accused of soliciting one of the teens last August and the other in May — instructing them on what to wear, what to say and what to do in the videos deemed child pornography, according to federal court documents obtained by PEOPLE.

He was arrested at Chicago’s O’Hare airport on Monday. He plans to plead not guilty to his charges, according to his attorney.

Here are five things to know about the case.

1. Jones Has Hundreds of Thousands of Online Followers

Jones, who first joined YouTube in July 2007, has more than half a million of subscribers to his channel, which mostly features a capella and acoustic covers of hit songs. His most popular video has been viewed more than 5 million times.

On Twitter, Jones has 225,000 followers and describes himself as an “alfredo boy” and “emo-acapella” vocalist. He has shared multiple photos from his shows, which appear to attract a largely young, female audience.

According to the criminal complaint against him, filed Tuesday in Illinois federal court, Jones allegedly “used Facebook and Apple’s iMessage service to request and receive videos depicting the genitalia of minor females, knowing that they were only 14 or 15 years old.”

Austin Jones
Austin Jones/Twitter

In the videos, which were sent through Facebook messenger, Jones allegedly told the victims to twerk — a kind of dancing — and expose their butts and repeat how old they were, in the course of which they also showed their genitals, the complaint shows.

The documents detail his alleged interactions with two victims, in 2016 and 2017, when they were 14.

Jones’ Facebook profile was deactivated after his arrest, though it’s unclear by whom. His Instagram, Twitter and YouTube accounts are still online.

According to the complaint, in May, Facebook deactivated an earlier account of Jones’ around May 15 because of the alleged child pornography.

About two weeks later, Jones made a YouTube video titled “I NEED YOUR HELP” addressing his account’s deactivation but blaming it on copyright issues. He directed fans to a new Facebook account he created.

“If you’ve got a few minutes extra in your day and you really want to help me out, you can invite some of your friends to like the Facebook page,” Jones tells viewers in the video.

2. Jones Recently Began Touring Internationally

This summer, before his arrest, Jones toured around the world with other social media artists. He has released two albums and several singles, including his covers of other songs.

In July, Jones performed in Germany and Poland with duo Bars and Melody and Johnny Orlando.

During the tour, Jones shared his trip with fans on Twitter, giving them a look at what goes on backstage.

In one video, Jones appears surrounded by dozens of young female fans screaming behind him. “Say what’s up!” he tells them

He shared a similar video with some “new friends” a day later, from Gdańsk, Poland: “Say ‘hi’ everybody!” he tells the crowd of what look to be teenage girls.

3. Similar Accusations Date Back to 2015

The child porn charges against Jones come approximately two years after he faced controversy online for allegedly similar behavior with female fans, which he dismissed at the time (and was not charged).

According to an Alternative Press article in May 2015, Jones was accused of lying about his age so girls would send him videos of them twerking. An online petition in 2015 made similar claims. Damon Fizzy, a fellow YouTuber and social media personality, spoke out about the allegations against Jones in 2015 and reportedly encouraged people to share their stories.

In a statement and video he released in 2015 in response to the scandal, Jones said he had asked his fans for “twerking videos” — but nothing more.

“It’s not something that I’m proud of, it’s not something that I think is right, and I shouldn’t have done it,” he said in the video, which was titled “Setting The Record Straight.”

Following Jones’ arrest this week, Fizzy took to Twitter, writing, “I can’t even express how happy I am that Austin Jones is finally being stopped and his actions are no longer being defended.”

“Two years ago when I called Austin Jones out, I was told I’d receive jail time, I’d be responsible if he killed [himself], got kicked off tour. …” he continued,” It’s crazy the backlash I received versus now. I was literally treated worse than the person who uses his underage fans for sexual gain.”

4. Jones Allegedly Told Teen to Send Him Videos to ‘Prove’ She Was a Fan

Jones allegedly knew the age of the victims and repeatedly discussed it with both of them in the course of instructing them on what to send him, according to the criminal complaint.

The documents show that with the first victim, Jones allegedly described their interaction as an “opportunity” and a “try out” and referred to giving her videos a “score.”

“Talk about your age the whole time,” he told her at one point, the complaint claims. “Got it?”

Austin Jones
Austin Jones/Twitter

In August, Jones and another 14-year-old girl, identified in the complaint as Victim B, allegedly communicated through Facebook chat for two days. The pair talked about how young she was and how much she liked his music, the complaint states.

According to the documents, Jones allegedly repeatedly told her that she was “so lucky” to have his attention. After one video, he allegedly responded, “in the next one, you have to prove you’re my biggest fan. I know you can do it!”

“How amazing that would be for you!! To have your favorite singer spanking your a–!” he allegedly wrote to her at one point. “If you’re lucky, maybe I’d let you suck my d—.”

Victim B sent Jones approximately 25 videos of her dancing, the complaint claims. In approximately eight of them, she is exposing herself from the waist-down.

“Bounce again and smile at the camera while you bounce. And while you bounce, say ‘I’m only 14’ three times throughout the video,” Jones allegedly instructed the girl, who at times was hesitant.

5. Defense Attorney: ‘He’s a Scared Young Man’

If convicted, Jones faces a minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison. His attorney says he plans to plead not guilty.

“He’s a scared young man,” his attorney, Gerardo S. Gutierrez, tells PEOPLE.

Jones appeared in court on Thursday for a bond hearing, where a judge ordered him released pending trial, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. However, Jones must remain at his home 24 hours a day and was barred from using the Internet, including social media.

According to the Sun-Times, Jones’ mother will act as his third-party guardian.