In August, Ian Rylett, owner and proprietor of tween YouTube channel SevenAwesomeKids, was arrested in Orange County, Florida for “lewd and lascivious molestation” involving a minor featured in his videos.
As shocking as this is, YouTube’s response is also awful.
Despite reportedly learning of the arrest in mid-August, the streaming video service is keeping the channel live.
According to an arrest warrant obtained by BuzzFeed News, detectives were called to Rylett’s Orange County hotel room after he allegedly verbally abused the girl, demanding she undress in front of him against her will and “practice wrapping her breasts down, to make them appear smaller for the video shoot.”
The girl — who is under 16 — claimed that Rylett touched her breasts, fondled her while repeatedly making her undress, and attempted to forcefully remove her underwear.
Additionally, Rylett allegedly “threatened to use the contract to fine her if she did not comply with his demand.”
In the BuzzFeed News article published on Monday, several young women who previously starred in Rylett’s videos voiced their concerns about the safety of underage vloggers.
One actress told the publication:
“I was telling my mom two years ago that, if this was a real entertainment business — you know, with rules — I’d report him in an instant… But I can’t because there’s nobody here to help me.”
Despite the fact that his videos are still live, a YouTube spokesperson said the company has demonetized SevenAwesomeKids.
“We take safety on YouTube very seriously. We work closely with leading child safety organizations and others in our industry to protect young people. When we’re made aware of serious allegations of this nature we take action, which may include suspending monetization, or, upon conclusion of an investigation, terminating the channel.”
Sadly, there is no proof that the company has reached out to the actors involved in the incident.
While none of the former SevenAwesomeKids performers who spoke out said they were abused or assaulted by Rylett, they spoke of his “awkward,” uncomfortable behavior.
While two girls said Rylett allegedly pressured them to wear smaller swimsuits on camera, one performer claimed he asked for her to send sizing photos for each new bathing suit she planned to wear in the videos. Allegedly, Rylett needs these photos for “sponsor approval,” and requested numerous front, back, and side snaps.
Additionally, two actresses claimed Rylett made jokes about “wardrobe malfunctions,” while another girl noted “constant pressure to make myself look younger.”
Another former star told the publication:
“On trips we used to joke about him being creepy, but we never thought he’d act on it.”
In June 2017, three former performers became concerned after SevenAwesomeKids was featured on Tosh.O, where host Daniel Tosh suggested the channel was being viewed by creeps and child molesters.
“Then some of us started to get the feeling we were being groomed for some darker audience… Things that didn’t feel weird at the time — like the themes, the leotards, and the camera angles — started to feel strange. I started to get that feeling especially when you think that some of these girls are 9 years old.”
Several girls made comments about Rylett’s alleged “manipulative” behavior. They claim he didn’t allow the girls to talk to each other online in channels unless he was present.
“His reactions were out of proportion and manipulative.”
Additionally, “parents had no power… [It was] all Ian.” She added:
“He’d talk to our parents and tell them to yell at us; he’d threaten to take our videos down; his language was so hostile and the way he talked about the girls’ bodies, clothes, and makeup… It was scarring — you have to understand, these are 12, 13, 14-year-old girls he’s doing this to.”
Another former blogger commented:
“A lot of parents early on didn’t understand or know what YouTube really was and they weren’t really involved. My parents would’ve flipped out if I told them how Ian behaved, but I was so in love with YouTube I didn’t want to freak them out.”
Two former employees also claimed that Rylett often “dangled the carrot” of promoting girls to one of his more popular channels. Allegedly, he would pressure the girls to spend their money on expensive set equipment and lights to possibly earn a spot on his most popular channel SevenSuperGirls.
Lastly, Rylett was allegedly cryptic about finances. One former girl commented:
“When we inquired about revenue split, he didn’t return our emails — we just got a check that varied each month.”
Another girl said:
“It was always very shady — he once changed my cut without telling me and he never told people how much money was coming from sponsorships and royalties. It felt like he was taking a lot more from the girls than he said he was. There are plenty of girls who did the work and aren’t getting paid now because of this mess… It’s another example of how YouTube isn’t doing anything for us — I’ve contacted them and heard nothing back.”
Sadly, several former performers had concerns about YouTube’s ability to crack down on unethical behavior. One girl revealed:
“With a place like YouTube, there were just no regulations or protections.”
Another former SevenAwesomeKids commented:
“In all my years filming for the channels, there was never any conversation with YouTube. There was no kid rep support that I know of and no number to call to report things to… We were on our own.”
Last month, the 55-year-old United Kingdom resident plead not guilty to the charges and has surrendered his passport.