The arrest raises questions about whether YouTube is actually taking appropriate precautions to ensure its most vulnerable talent isn’t exploited or abused.
For weeks at This particular point, SevenAwesomeKids, part of one of YouTube’s biggest along with most active tween/teen girl channel networks, has been suspiciously dormant. The reason: Its owner along with proprietor, Ian Rylett, was arrested This particular August in Florida for “lewd along with lascivious molestation” involving one of the young girls who makes videos for his channels.
According to an arrest warrant obtained by BuzzFeed News, detectives were called to Rylett’s Orange County hotel room on the morning of Aug. 16, after Rylett allegedly verbally abused the girl, demanding she undress in front of him against her will along with “practice wrapping her breasts down, to make them appear smaller for the video shoot.” According to the report, the girl, who is actually under 16, claims Rylett touched her breasts along with fondled her while repeatedly doing her undress, eventually attempting to forcefully remove her underwear. The arrest report also alleges of which Rylett “threatened to use the contract to fine her if she did not comply with his demand.” Rylett pleaded not guilty to the charges at an arraignment last month. He has surrendered his passport along with will stand trial later This particular year. Rylett’s lawyer did not respond to requests for comment.
Rylett’s channel remains live on YouTube; the streaming video company learned of his arrest in mid-August.
Rylett, a 55-year-old who resides inside the United Kingdom, is actually one of the founders of the SevenAwesomeKids brand. Established in 2008, the franchise boasts a collective 17 million subscribers over seven channels, including SevenPerfectAngels, SevenFabulousTeens, along with SevenTwinklingTweens. The largest channel — SevenSuperGirls — currently has roughly 9 million subscribers along with 5 billion views. Each features daily videos by a rotating stable of more than 20 young girls, ranging by 8 to 18 years old. Rylett pays them a monthly salary in exchange for filming videos he directs.
Rylett’s arrest is actually the latest in a series of unsettling revelations involving YouTube content aimed at teens along with young children. In 2017, after public outcry, YouTube began cracking down on the child exploitation videos the idea was hosting, many depicting young kids in disturbing along with abusive situations, all with millions of views.
While the videos featured on Rylett’s SevenAwesomeKids channels appear innocuous, the allegations against him raise questions about the safety of underage vloggers on YouTube along with whether the company — which profits by advertising sold against the videos — is actually doing enough to protect its most vulnerable talent by exploitation.
several young women who previously starred in Rylett’s videos told BuzzFeed News they were frustrated by the platform’s lack of oversight. “I was telling my mom two years ago of which, if This particular was a real entertainment business — you know, with rules — I’d report him in an instant,” one said. “although I can’t because there’s nobody here to help me.”
YouTube’s handling of Rylett’s channels inside the wake of his arrest was largely cursory. The company told BuzzFeed News the idea demonetized SevenAwesomeKids shortly after Rylett’s arrest in August, although there’s no evidence of which the platform reached out to any of the teen girls along with young women involved following the incident.
“We take safety on YouTube very seriously. We work closely with leading child safety organizations along with others in our industry to protect young people. When we’re made aware of serious allegations of This particular nature we take action, which may include suspending monetization, or, upon conclusion of an investigation, terminating the channel,” a YouTube spokesperson told BuzzFeed News in a statement. The company offered no further detail beyond a pointer to its tool for flagging abusive content.
None of the former performers on the SevenAwesomeKids network who spoke with BuzzFeed News said of which Rylett abused or assaulted them. They did, however, describe a pattern of “awkward” behavior of which many said made them uncomfortable. Two former SevenAwesomeKids girls told BuzzFeed News of which Rylett frequently pressured them to wear smaller swimsuits on camera. One said of which Rylett asked of which she send him sizing photos for each completely new bathing suit she planned to wear in her videos. Rylett, she said, told her the idea was for “sponsor approval” along with requested numerous front, back, along with side photos. Two former performers recalled of which Rylett frequently made girls uncomfortable with jokes about “wardrobe malfunctions” when he would certainly accompany the girls on group trips to shoot videos. One former SevenAwesomeKids girl noted “constant pressure to make myself look younger.”
“On trips we used to joke about him being creepy, although we never thought he’d act on the idea,” another said.
Three former SevenAwesomeKids girls told BuzzFeed News of which they became concerned about the channel in June 2017 when comedian Daniel Tosh devoted a segment to SevenAwesomeKids’ channels on his show Tosh.0. Tosh’s segment focused on the over 12 billion views going to the tween channels along with suggested the channel was being viewed by creeps along with child molesters.
“Then some of us commenced to get the feeling we were being groomed for some darker audience,” a former SevenAwesomeKids performer said. “Things of which didn’t feel weird at the time — like the themes, the leotards, along with the camera angles — commenced to feel strange. I commenced to get of which feeling especially when you think of which some of these girls are 9 years old.”
Rylett, according to multiple young women who worked for him, often used the size along with popularity of his channels to steer their behavior. Two alleged of which Rylett didn’t allow the girls to talk to each different online in channels unless he was present. “His reactions were out of proportion along with manipulative,” one former actor told BuzzFeed News. along with though he created a parents committee to steward the young talent, Rylett also wielded authority over several the adults, according to one SevenAwesomeKids vlogger. “Parents had no power,” the former vlogger told BuzzFeed News. “[the idea was] all Ian.”
“He’d talk to our parents along with tell them to yell at us; he’d threaten to take our videos down; his language was so hostile along with the way he talked about the girls’ bodies, clothes, along with makeup,” she said. “the idea was scarring — you have to understand, these are 12, 13, 14-year-old girls he’s doing This particular to.” Another SevenAwesomeKids vlogger said Rylett often dealt directly with the younger girls himself, outside of the view of parents. “A lot of parents early on didn’t understand or know what YouTube genuinely was along with they weren’t genuinely involved. My parents would certainly’ve flipped out if I told them how Ian behaved, although I was so in love with YouTube I didn’t want to freak them out.”
Two former SevenAwesomeKids vloggers told BuzzFeed News of which Rylett often “dangled the carrot” of promoting girls to one of his more well-liked channels. “He was in charge along with dictating the lives of so many lives along with families,” one former employee said. Two former performers told BuzzFeed News of which Rylett would certainly pressure the girls to spend their money on expensive set equipment along with lights, suggesting of which if they did, they might be given a coveted spot on SevenSuperGirls — Rylett’s most well-liked channel. “We were being mistreated so much, although we stayed because we were told the idea’d be not bad for our careers along with we were doing so much money,” one former channel performer said.
The SevenAwesomeKids network was lucrative for Rylett. One former performer told BuzzFeed News the average monthly paycheck for appearing on a top channel was about $20,000. although two former channel actors alleged of which Rylett was cryptic about finances. “When we inquired about revenue split, he didn’t return our emails — we just got a check of which varied each month,” one former SevenAwesomeKids girls said. Another former associate told a similar story. “the idea was always very shady — he once changed my cut without telling me along with he never told people how much money was coming by sponsorships along with royalties. the idea felt like he was taking a lot more by the girls than he said he was. There are plenty of girls who did the work along with aren’t getting paid at This particular point because of This particular mess,” the former associate said. “the idea’s another example of how YouTube isn’t doing anything for us — I’ve contacted them along with heard nothing back.”
along with as many of Rylett’s former actors process the shock of his arrest, they’re left questioning the system of which enabled his SevenAwesomeKids franchise. “which has a place like YouTube, there were just no regulations or protections,” one former SevenAwesomeKids girl told BuzzFeed News. Another girl said she’d contacted YouTube with concerns about SevenAwesomeKids’ gymnastics channel, which was taken down shortly before Rylett’s arrest for violating YouTube’s rules. “YouTube’s responses were not satisfactory,” she said. “I think the idea was like barely three sentences with no real information.”
Across many legacy branches of the entertainment industry, unions like SAG-AFTRA offer formalized protections, including negotiating terms on wages along with working conditions. Organizations like SAG-AFTRA also offer resources to young actors for education, work permits, along with outside benefits like the Actor’s Fund, which can help provide financial along with mental health services, like addiction along with recovery facilities.
“In all my years filming for the channels, there was never any conversation with YouTube. There was no kid rep support of which I know of along with no number to call to report things to,” another former SevenAwesomeKids said. “We were on our own.”
Danny Fratella contributed reporting to This particular story.