CONTENT WARNING: This article contains descriptions of grooming.
Famous beauty YouTuber James Charles, 21, has been accused of grooming an underage fan; a claim he has since denied.
If you're wondering what exactly grooming means, the Victoria state govt describes grooming on their website as: "when a person engages in predatory conduct to prepare a child or young person for sexual activity at a later time. Grooming can include communicating and/or attempting to befriend or establish a relationship or other emotional connection with the child or their parent/care."
16-year-old accuses James Charles of grooming
While rumours of Charles' supposed inappropriate conduct have been circulating online for some time, the most recent allegations only came to light late last week, when a 16-year-old TikTok user shared a series of videos detailing his interactions with Charles. The accuser, known online as Isaiyah, took to the platform with allegations that he received explicit photos and messages from the beauty influencer. In the videos, the accuser details an exchange between himself and Charles that took place on Snapchat, including explicit images Charles allegedly sent, and requests that Isaiyah send some back. The videos contained screenshots of the messages and photos, but were later removed from both TikTok and Twitter.
In one of the videos, the accuser claims, "I was getting really uncomfortable so I told him my age, I told him I'm 16." He alleged that the influencer wanted to continue talking, asking to FaceTime or exchange more pictures. A breakdown of what Isaiyah stated in his videos is here.
James Charles responds to grooming allegations
On Saturday, March 27, James Charles posted a statement on Twitter denying that he was aware of the Isaiyah's age while they were talking.
"Last week, I came across someone on my Instagram explore page, saw he followed me, and added him on Snapchat," the statement claimed. "The next morning, I woke up to several snaps from this person being excited I added him back, saying he loved me, and also lewd photos of himself in the shower."
"I asked how old he was right away and he said he was 18, so I started flirting back," Charles wrote. "In the excitement of meeting someone I thought could be potentially great, I didn't ask for a copy of his ID or passport."
Charles claims that when the accuser admitted to being only 16, he apologised for flirting and attempted to end the conversation. Charles alleged that Isaiyah became upset and insisted on continuing the interaction, leading Charles to unfriend Isaiyah. He ended the statement pledging to ask for the "ID or passport of every guy" he speaks to in the future.
Isaiyah responded to James Charles on Twitter, writing, "James we both know I blocked you, you never asked for my age." He's since posted screenshots of his social media profiles as proof that he publicly displays his age in his bios.
Commentators weighed in, criticising Charles for his alleged misconduct and for attempting to swiftly move past the claims.
The morning following Charles statement, the YouTuber tweeted "good morning". Commenters were quick to bring up the serious accusations. "I don't think you can notesapp your way out of this James....." one user wrote.
Charles responded, calling the situation "unacceptable" and "embarrassing".
"I should have taken the extra steps to research the person I was talking to," he posted.
Charles initially had a video scheduled to go out this week, but delayed posting it due to the allegations. "I didn't want to post a video with [my channel guest] and drag them into my situation they had nothing to do with," he stated.
Since Isaiyah shared his story, other minors have also reportedly come forward via social media with stories relating to troublesome interactions they say they've had with James Charles. We will keep you updated as the story develops.
If you have experienced any kind of sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia (1800 respect) or Lifeline Australia (13 11 14).