YouTuber Arrested For Allegedly Intending To Have Sexual Relations With Minor

YouTuber Arrested For Allegedly Intending To Have Sexual Relations With Minor

Federal investigators arrested popular YouTuber Starlit “JinBop” Zhao last month for allegedly engaging in sexually predatory behaviour toward a 15-year-old female fan of his channel. The news of Zhao’s arrest first spread over the weekend through a YouTube news channel, and he remains in custody today. Zhao’s YouTube channel, popular among young teens, features him playing a variety of games including Minecraft and Inside. JinBop

According to an affidavit sent to Kotaku by the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan, where Zhao is in custody, he allegedly engaged in illicit online behaviour with a minor over the course of several months this year. An FBI representative told Kotaku that Zhao was arrested at the Detroit Metro airport, where he was allegedly on his way to meet the fan. Zhao is nine years her senior.

In an interview, Zhao’s lawyer stressed that his client is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and that “the federal complaint doesn’t give all the information”. He declined to elaborate further.

Zhao is accused of producing and receiving child pornography, as well as enticing a minor and travelling “with intent to engage in illicit sexual activity.”

A court document alleges, “the defendant acted in a deliberate, sexually predatory manner toward a fan he knew to be a minor (14 to 15 years old at all times relevant hereto) over many months in a manner designed to ‘groom’ her to participate in the production of child pornography and further to participate in direct sexual activity with the defendant”, noting that the defendant’s work involves “creating content for YouTube with 10 to 14-year-old children as the intended audience and with this serving as a possible entrée into communication with minors”.

He is currently detained, pending trial.

The alleged victim has created graphics and voice-overs for Zhao’s YouTube channel, which boasts 400,000 subscribers and is popular with young teens. Earlier this year, when the fan was 14, her parents allegedly grew concerned about her Skype calls with Zhao. (Zhao is based in Washington state; the girl lives outside Detroit.)

When she started wearing a locket with his picture around her neck and purchasing lingerie “she would not typically wear,” her parents began monitoring her time online, according to the affidavit.

The girl’s parents allegedly obtained an audio recording in which “Zhao can be heard asking [her] to ‘strip’ her clothes off. Zhao then gives advice to [her] on grooming her genital area,” the affidavit reads.

In the same conversation, Zhao allegedly acknowledged that she is 14. According to the affidavit, the two discussed meeting in person and having sexual relations throughout the year. In one conversation cited in the affidavit, they allegedly plotted to meet and have sex at a gaming convention in Florida.

In a May Skype call observed by an FBI agent, Zhao and the girl discuss oral sex, according to the affidavit. He also allegedly coerced her into showing her genitalia over Skype. That video, according to the agent, met the federal definition of child pornography.

Zhao was arrested last month, allegedly on his way to meet the fan around Detroit. His final YouTube video, in which he plays Abzu, was posted on August 10.

Last Friday, YouTube news personality Scarce broke the story of Zhao’s alleged sexually predatory relations in a video. We confirmed Scarce’s report with the Eastern Michigan district attorney’s office.

In the past, members of the Minecraft YouTube community have been accused of soliciting and disseminating child pornography, capitalising on their clout among young girls.

Some allegations of sexually predatory behaviour against YouTubers have gone no where. A Google or Facebook search of “JinBop” turns up multitudes of fan art drawn by his young fan base, known as “Jinvaders”, as well as photographs of him with young girls.

Zhao Complaint by Cecilia D’Anastasio on Scribd


  • Seems an open and shut case, I hope this piece of shit is dealt with quickly and all his videos promptly removed.

    Edit: This is actually relevant:

    My son and I have our computers in the same room, he’s 12 years old and I heard from his headset a very, very deep voice a little while ago now talking to him (you get to know the sounds of your kids ‘regular’ game-mates). I listened as he spoke to this person and after two minutes jumped on and spoke to the person myself to check out this person and let them know his Dad was in the room. It was some American guy, no idea who, never gave either of us a name. He was playing online, playing Ark. Dude had joined his team speak server. I asked him if my boy had told him his age, he said he had, I asked how old he was, he said 32 and then I simply asked if he thought it was appropriate to be in a team speak server alone with a 12 year old. At that point he simply disconnected without warning. I don’t know if he had ulterior motives, I don’t know if he had no motives or what, but that creeped me out a lot and since then all audio chat has been decreed to have to go through the speakers instead of headset. My boy isn’t allowed to play online without me around but the simple fact that creepy scenario happened gave me a few chills. I may be overreacting but with our kids online you really do need to be vigilant and I’m glad this kids parents were too.

    • Smurf I don’t feel that’s an overreaction on your part. Completely rational and a sensible reaction.

      • I’m not comfortable with my boy playing games online with any adults unless I know them in real life personally. I just don’t feel like taking a risk I’ll probably end up regretting. I used to help moderate the old official B105 radio station chat room in the late 1990s to early 2000’s here in Brisbane, and by god the scum we used to see go through there was incredible in irc. I guess that jaded me to online way early on lol

    • A somewhat related thing happened to me just the other day, though from the other perspective. [This isn’t a devils advocate thing at all, your story just reminded me].

      I fired up GTAV on my PS4 for the first time in probably a year, and started to play the online mode. They’ve added a lot of new features and the CEO/VIP work mode is a lot of fun. I got hired by a CEO, went on some missions and was having a great time. The guy who hired me was pretty high level, had a lot of money at their disposal, and really knew their stuff in the game.
      After some time doing missions, they sent a friend invite, which I accepted. They then invited me to their party [which included chat]. Shiiiittt, it sounded like almost everyone there was 12 years old. I told them thanks for the game and to enjoy the rest of their night, then left.

      I guess it’s always been the way with online communication, but you can never really be sure who you are being matched with. It’s certainly got to be tough as a parent, so I commend your actions in taking an active role in your child’s online activities. Frankly I wish the parents of these kids would have done the same. Say nothing of the fact they were playing what is clearly a mature title, I’m pretty uneasy about how easily they were just inviting people to their party chat.

      • You did the smart and responsible thing. I’ve been in that position too and did the same. I won’t play online with people under 18 for that reason and also the fact I’m a teacher (legally I can’t consort on social media with students or minors or even game technically, I just don’t want to risk it). It’s just not worth the risk or the headaches it brings with it. The difference with you and the other guy though was he was talking with my kid a while and only dc’ed when I got on the mic. You did the smart and sensible thing, he did the suspect thing.

        • Gents, I implore you to pitch the Kotaku staff with expanded thoughts or accounts, on this or similar stuff to which you’ve unfortunately been experiencing.

          It’s high time rational action like yours was highlighted.

          Hat’s off.

        • You remind me of a friend, avid gamer and father to 18, 16, 15 and 6.
          His control over gaming and Internet access to the kids is brilliant, practical but not draconian.

          Speaking from another view, we had a Warframe group that ballooned to include ppl of all ages, but with the kids came all their friends.
          There was nothing sexual to worry about, but over time I realised it was like trying to mix two cultures with no middle ground, we simply didn’t operate on the same wave lengths.
          One day a few people were chatting about random things, when one of the younger members, who struggled to understand the online environment, mentioned his nationality.
          Oh really? neat, I threw in as passing interest.
          Next thing I knew I had a message with a picture, he had sent me his photo…….
          (It was a normal Facebook like pic)
          I was a little taken back and asked him over the chat….dude, why?!
          So you could see I wasn’t lying, he replied.
          I gave him a pretty stern talking to, but realised it might be time to reel back on being so accessible to such a large group.

          Another weird situation was playing GTAO. A 6 year old named Steve joined the lobby and started inviting ppl to his apartment.
          Most of us were stunned this little Brit was allowed to play, but the thing that blew my mind was when he announced he had to go to the toilet.
          As we heard the mic drop we all laughed (What else could we do)
          He announced his return and one person asked in a stern tone, did you wash your hands Stevie?
          Yes! He replied
          Are you lying Stevie?
          Hold on, he said…then ran off.
          We all lost the plot, but it wasn’t lost on me that Stevie instantly afforded authority to a strange adult……it was unnerving as I thought about it later.

          • Wow, that’s actually pretty disturbing when you think about it. I mean it’s good it was all innocent with you guys but imagine questions like “Stevie what’s your home address? When is your mum home or not home?” etc. It gets really, really bad really quick with the wrong people.

            I honestly can’t fathom the idea of not monitoring my son online. I have his facebook password, he knows the ramifications for setting up any secret accounts, if I ever find out he has, he loses his ps4, his pc etc until such time as trust comes back. There’s an honesty and trust policy here that goes both ways and it can’t be broken until he’s responsible enough to look after himself. Even then I’ll probably have a hard time letting go 😛 lol

    • Agreed. I wonder how YouTube will deal with his content, I don’t know if something like this has happened before.

      Also, yeah, the internet is full of creeps, I wouldn’t let my (theoretical) kid play online alone either.

      • Just checked and it’s all still up. I guess they need a conviction or something first. People are filling it with comments about him being a pedo tho.

        • I consider him guilty based on the evidence presented above. But until a Trial proves that he must be considered Innocent, Youtube would open themselves up to Legal Retaliation for taking down his Videos before it’s proven in court.

    • I may be overreacting but with our kids online you really do need to be vigilant and I’m glad this kids parents were too.

      Don’t ever think you’re overacting; just what may have happened if you didn’t over react.

      +999 for showing a rare trait in this day and age.

    • You know you bring up an interesting point I’ve never thought about how I’d react if I found myself in voice chat with a bunch of kids I don’t know. I tend to only visit 3 Servers. My Guild TS, my RL friends TS and my other Guilds Vent channel. Always full of adults. I have been playing Halo matches when I’ve heard a kid start having a loud argument about bed/bath time, I generally don’t say anything not game related.

      Now that I’ve thought about it, I think I’d say something along the lines of “I find it weird being alone in a channel with somebody I don’t know, your parents probably wouldn’t like it either. Best of luck I’m going to leave.

      On a funnier note, back in WoW Vanilla we got some kid who was 12 or 13 at the time but told us he was 21. No big deal until his Mum heard swearing because the Raid was going poorly and ended up tracking down and calling the Guild Leaders phone (who owned the TS server) and yelling at him. And he never spoke over the channel, just listened so his voice never gave it away.

    • Wow, that’s pretty creepy.

      My sons are 9 and 11 and they have a 360 in their room but I’ve disabled the online. Don’t let em’ have tablets either. I’m not anti-tech or anything, I just don’t think they’re at the maturity level to be able to handle being exposed to the online environment just yet (and honestly, their lives aren’t hampered in any way because of it). I have already begun talks about online safety though, I want to lay the ground work and have those concepts of safety ingrained in their mindsets by the time they start going online, just like stranger danger and crossing the road.

      It blows my mind when I see kids under 10 with unrestricted iPad use or when I hear 7 year olds when I’m playing Destiny or GTA.

  • He’s 23.

    You know, if anyone was wondering because that’s also a handy thing to know with these things.

    • Yeah, I actually did take the time to read through nearly all of that document, saw ‘1992’ and went ‘ugh holy shit’ instead of finding out he was 15 or 16 or something.

    • I’m curious as to why this matters? He’s over 18, he knows the laws and deserves whatever the courts throw at him.

      • He could have been 17 for all we knew, still would have been illegal but he would also have been a minor.

      • It matters because judging from his picture, I couldn’t tell if he’s over 18 or not. He could be anywhere between 16 and 30. I scanned the article a few times and couldn’t find an age.

        • Fair enough. I was curious as to your reasoning.

          I still feel that regardless of his age, he deserves to have the book thrown at him. Just my opinion.

  • This is truly the nightmare scenario if you’ve got young family members and you know they are into Minecraft and the Youtube Minecraft scene. It’s mind-boggling what’s been allowed on to that website using that game’s name.

    It’s exactly why we see tougher-than-expected vigilance by other corporations over their IP.

    I’d ask to know what games this Youtuber has featured on his channel to his fans, in return for sponsorship and ad money, etc. INSIDE, Abzu, et al are relatively new games that definitely fit the mould of ‘get a streamer to show our game to their audience’ while ignoring the ‘traditional’ PR route.

    It’s only fair.

    • I don’t think that’s fair at all.
      When found guilty, fling all the metaphorical shit you want at this guy, but the developers/publishers don’t deserve to have their reputations potentially tarnished because of a business relationship with an individual they had no idea was breaking the law.

    • Major props to her parents though, noticing a change in their daughter’s behaviour and alerting the authorities. They could have easily came down hard on her and left it at that but they’ve probably help prevent others from falling to his influence.

  • I found the frontpage link vaguely funny.

    This kind of thing is the reason I monitor my kid’s online gaming (e.g. his participation in Clash of Clans/Minecraft/Roblox group chat) and won’t allow him to voice chat on any.
    Having taught him about the dangers of online communication, and a bit about the unpleasantness of people, despite being 8 he’s shown to be capable enough to recognise questionable behaviour (eg someone trying to find out where he lives, goes to school).
    I commend the others above for their foresight and handling.

  • Hmmm it makes a lot more sense when you actually click through to here and read the full article and headline. The link in the “top stories” section at the top of the Kotaku homepage has the headline truncated to just “YouTuber Arrested For Allegedly Intending To Have Sexual Relations”, which seemed a bit harsh 😛

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