To add to the growing list of YouTube controversies this year, Buzzfeed News discovered yesterday that Ian Rylett, who runs the YouTube account SevenAwesomeKids, was arrested in Florida in August for molesting a minor who made videos for his brand.
The channel, which has not been active for over a month, currently has 2.6 million subscribers. After the uncovering of this case, YouTube has faced heavy criticism for not removing the channel.
Rylett was arrested for sexually assaulting a girl who is under the age of 16. He verbally abused her and then physically touched her without her consent. The girl was one of the young girls that made videos for his brand, and throughout the experience, Rylett threatened to use her contract with the channel to fine her if she didn’t allow him to continue assaulting her.
He was finally arrested on Aug. 16 in Orange County, Florida.
According to Buzzfeed News, Rylett pleaded not guilty to the charges and is expected to stand trial later this year.
SevenAwesomeKids contains seven channels total, with a total of 17 million subscribers. The channels feature performances from about 20 girls, all under the age of 18. After the arrest was made public, some of the other girls in the group came forward and announced that Rylett frequently made the girls uncomfortable with sexual jokes, but they never thought he would act on it.
One performer said, “Some of us started to get the feeling we were being groomed for some darker audience.”
On top of the backlash against Rylett, there has been a slew of hate directed toward YouTube itself. After the arrest, YouTube demonetized the accounts involving Rylett, meaning that he will make no profit from any views or advertisements, but has not removed the channel or videos.
Many people are reaching out and complaining about this, such as a Twitter user who tweeted, “@YouTube why is SevenAwesomeKids still active on your platform after its creater has been arrested for ‘lewd and lascivious molestation’ involving one of the young girls who makes videos for his channels?”
@YouTube why is SevenAwesomeKids still active on your platform after its creator, @IanRylett has been arrested for “lewd and lascivious molestation” involving one of the young girls who makes videos for his channels?
— SonyLoren (@FulhamLady) September 24, 2018
Another user pointed out, “I’d never heard of SevenAwesomeKids before today… but a teen girl YouTube channel produced by a 55 yo man didn’t raise a single red flag? To anyone?… Is this thing on?”
I'd never heard of #SevenAwesomeKids before today…and I get the hindsight 20/20 stuff y'all…but a teen girl @YouTube channel produced by a 55 yo man didn't raise a single red flag? To anyone? Like can we just ban every. single. channel under this category? Is this thing on?
— Rachael Fleischman (@rcfleischman) September 24, 2018
It seems like by now YouTube should have learned its lesson of questionable content, especially after the multitude of controversies this year. The fact that YouTube has not yet removed the channel is upsetting to many, especially as this is coming to light in the height of the #MeToo movement, which deals with cases exactly like these.
The lack of support for cases like these from big corporations like YouTube shows just how important the #MeToo movement is, as the men in question are still not facing the punishments that they deserve.