Popular Bloomingdale musician faces federal child porn charges

 
By Katie Smith
Daily Herald correspondent

A 24-year-old Bloomingdale musician known for singing covers of popular songs online now faces federal charges for asking underage girls to make pornographic videos, officials say.

Officers with Homeland Security Investigations arrested Austin Jones Monday, according to a news release from the Northern District of Illinois U.S. attorneys office. He is charged with two counts of production of child pornography stemming from internet conversations with underage girls, prosecutors said.

Each count is punishable by 15 to 30 years in prison, officials said.

In a video-recorded police interview, Jones told officers he used Facebook to have sexually explicit conversations with teenage girls, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court by Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine Neff Welsh.

Jones, who has more than 500,000 subscribers on YouTube, is accused of using his popularity to encourage the 14- to 15-year-old girls to record videos of themselves dancing, revealing parts of their bodies and performing sex acts, the complaint says.

According to the complaint, Jones chatted with one underage girl in August 2016 and with another girl last month. Officials say one of the girls told Jones she was his biggest fan, and he repeatedly told her she was "lucky" to have his attention, and that she needed to "prove" she was his biggest fan by sending him sexually explicit videos.

Alternative Press reported in May that Jones released a public apology in response to accusations circulating online about his reportedly inappropriate behavior with young girls.

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"I'm embarrassed. I'd have conversations online with girls that would involve me asking them to create a video of themselves twerking. Sometimes I'd make videos of myself doing some twerk moves in return," Jones said in his statement. "Here's the truth: I never asked them to do anything more than send a twerking video. Nothing ever went beyond that. Ever."

Jones has not released a statement addressing official charges.

He will remain in Chicago federal jail until a bond hearing Wednesday.

The Associated Press reports prosecutors told the presiding magistrate judge they'll oppose Jones' release.

Katiesmithdh@gmail.com

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