YouTuber ProJared Accused Of Sexually Soliciting Fans [UPDATE]

ProJared (Image: ProJared’s instagram)

Jared “ProJared” Knabenbauer, a gaming YouTuber who had over a million subscribers before today’s events, has been accused of sending nudes to and soliciting nudes from fans, two of whom says they were underage at the time of the solicitation. The allegations were first published last night by his wife, artist and cosplayer Heidi O’Ferrall, who is also accusing him of having cheated on her.

Knabenbauer has long been an installation in the gaming YouTube world, where he posts Let’s Plays and gaming reviews, and most notably, his “One Minute Reviews” series. Knabenbauer first started climbing the ranks of YouTube fame around 2013 and, since then, he has collaborated with other YouTube superstars like Jonathan “JonTron” Jafari, the Game Grumps, and even D&D publisher Wizards of the Coast.

Last night on Twitter, Knabenbauer announced his upcoming divorce from O’Ferrall. Shortly afterward, she published a series of tweets alleging adultery. In those tweets, O’Ferrall wrote that her husband “has been soliciting nudes from his fans for years… I was there. In the beginning, it was a joke on tumblr. Then it was its own tumblr account just for nudes. It was ostensibly a body-positive space for consenting adults, and I approved on that basis.”

Since then, at least seven of Knabenbauer’s fans have come forward to say that they either sent naked pictures to or received naked pictures from the YouTuber; two of these fans says they were 16 years old at the time of this exchange. Several of Knabenbauer’s lewd images are now circulating on Twitter and Reddit.

Knabenbauer has been open about having received lewd images from fans on his Tumblr. However, some of those fans are now expressing regret about how the photo exchanges occurred and pointing out the imbalanced power dynamics between fan and celebrity.

Earlier this year, Kotaku reported on the easily-exploitable power imbalances between top Twitch and YouTube personalities and their fans. In the cases described in that story, fans detailed how surprised they felt when these micro-celebrities began showing them attention on social media and how they felt conflicted about the sudden boundary-crossing of sexual solicitations.

If all parties are of age, it is not illegal or even necessarily inappropriate for a famous YouTuber to trade nudes with fans, but these situations can involve a power imbalance that places pressure on the fan. O’Ferrall described this particular situation as an “abuse of power” on the part of her husband.

“I used to think that among consenting adults, it was fine,” she said. “Now I see it as an abuse of power for him to intentionally manipulate anyone to show him their naked body on the basis that he’s a popular internet man. I would like to apologise for my role in enabling this.” (In the past, when a fan asked O’Ferrall whether receiving the nudes bothered her, she had said, “No, he shows them to me and we high five about it.”)

Kotaku has reached out to five of Knabenbauer’s fans who said they participated in exchanging nude photos. Three did not return requests for comment and one declined to speak with press. The fifth fan, Danielle Shafran, told Kotaku that she followed Knabenbauer’s Tumblr and added him on Snapchat when she was 21. “It was kind of weird. I was trying to play it cool, but him being a ‘famous YouTuber’ was definitely a major reason why I was even messaging him.”

After he asked her age, she says, he sent several nude pictures. “I didn’t expect him to send full nudes, though. Him being a public figure, and all, I did not think he would do that.” Shafran deleted Knabenbauer from her Snapchat after just a week, she says. She doesn’t feel extremely victimized; just “pretty gross,” she says, adding that she didn’t know he had a wife.

On Twitter, several fans have detailed their communications with the YouTube star, which supposedly unfolded on Snapchat and Tumblr. One fan, who goes by Chai, said that Knabenbauer “sexually manipulated” him when he was 16. “We spoke sexually,” Chai said in a tweet.

“He sent me pictures of him in cosplay with his dick very visible. He told me details about his sexual life and fantasies. Eventually, he sent me a dick pick. . . We didn’t speak every day, but most. I sent him many actual, real nudes.” One other former fan says they shared intimate words and pictures with Knabenbauer when they were about the same age as Chai. In a direct message, that fan elaborated:

“I think he took advantage of the fact that he was a big YouTuber and had a lot of young, impressionable fans. a lot of those fans would have done aaaanything to get attention from him.”

O’Ferrall and Knabenbauer did not respond to Kotaku’s request for comment. Knabenbauer’s initial statement on Twitter announcing his divorce from O’Ferrall, in part, appears to have been spurred by his alleged sexual relationship with Twitch star Holly Conrad.

On Twitter, Conrad said of the allegations, “If it’s worth anything, you all know me. I’d never hurt anyone and I only want the best and happiness for those around me.”

Knabenbauer’s statement read: “I know this may come as surprising and upsetting for many of you, but know that we do this so that we may both seek happiness for ourselves. During this time you may see a lot of rumours, speculation and gossip going around. I ask that you make your own observations and come to your own conclusions.”

He did not address the conversations around him supposedly sending nudes to fans, nor the allegation that he sent nudes to a 16-year-old fan.

In response to the controversy, thousands of fans have unsubscribed from his YouTube channel. On his Reddit page, a moderator erased the description and replaced it with the words “jared cheated on his wife.” Former fans are peppering the subreddit with sympathetic messages for O’Ferrall and others who felt mistreated by Knabenbauer.

[Correction, Update]: An earlier version of this story implied that O’Ferrall’s tweets came before Knabenbauer’s statement. In fact, hers came about a half hour later. We regret the error. This story has also been updated to include allegations by another former fan who says they were underage at the time of their conversations with Knabenbauer.


Comments

    Two points.

    1) It's now a trend that these popular streamers turn out to be creeps or bigots or generally just a-holes in someway.

    2) Why the hell do these dudes think sending photos of their junk will turn women on?

      I wouldn't say it's a trend with YouTube / Twitch stars as much as just with people in positions of power, be that power from a celebrity status or an institution. If someone has influence or control over someone else there's almost always a chance to abuse it, and unfortunately some do.

      Its less of a trend and more that when these things come to light, Due to the nature of social media and youtube they blow up huge. Information like this spreads fast.

    If you're a consenting adult and send nudes to anyone, that's your decision. Acting like you've been coerced because some YouTuber asked for the nudes is ridiculous. This new mindset people have of regretting their own actions and blaming someone else for it is abhorrent.

    Own your mistakes people.

      Yeah it's ridiculous. I mean there is no power imbalance when you're both adults.
      On the other hand it's fucked he did that with under 18s because that is blatant.

      For all those who were overage, yeah, you’re right to an extent - you can always refuse, especially if he has no potential to control you (eg is your boss or influencer). But one of the fans was apparently underage, and that’s a very different story.

      People get pressured into shit and don't realise it without time and hindsight. Power imbalances and exploitation are common. It's plain cruel to tell those people they don't deserve empathy or recognition because you think complex human emotions are a fad.

      You know this. Be better.

        If you're a grown up, you make your own decisions. Does it suck that these people acted in a way they later regret? Sure does. Are they ultimately still responsible for the actions they took? They sure are.

        We're not talking about extortion. We're talking about people being starstruck by someone with a high YouTube subscriber count. Grown adults, at that.

        I have plenty of things I've done I wish I didn't. What I don't do is blame everyone else for my mistakes. I learn from them and move on.

        Absolving yourself of personal responsibility because you, as an adult, consciously made decisions you now regret and attempting to place the blame on others is disingenuous and can cause significant and lasting damage to people who have done nothing wrong just because you, in hindsight, decided you don't like the way your own decisions have panned out.

        No one is responsible for your actions except you (with the exception of extortion). Placing the blame on others for your actions does not deserve sympathy from others.

        You know this. Be better.

          Grown ups also get everyday scammed, defrauded, taken advantage of, manipulated, robbed, etc. In many of those cases, there was a chance that some sobriety, criteria, logical thinking, wariness, preparation, etc would have spared the victim from the crime. Does that excuse the criminal? If not, why do you attempt to excuse this guy's actions by blaming his victims for their own poor choices?

            Pretty sure deathduck put scams/extortions on a seperste field if you read the last paragraph -

            "No one is responsible for your actions except you (with the exception of extortion)."

            Now whether projareds actions counts as extortion is a different discussion..

              But who gets to draw that line? Why extortion is a step too far but not the others? In all cases, a malicious agent coerced a person to willingly put themselves in the way of harm. So when does a victim's agency excuse the perpetrator?

    This shit has happened so often in the gaming community that I'm no longer surprised...

    Okay, I'm sorry, but why in the hell would anyone want to send this dude nudes? He looks like some sort of underfed chicken human hybrid, and his claim to fame is youtube gaming vids? What the fuck society?

    Hopefully old mate Dunkey stays cool

      If dunkey turns out to be a creep i will be so mad

      He and his girlfriend sound so cute together on streams, i reaaaaly hope dunkey isnt a creep like all these other streamers

    I always enjoyed ProJared's videos and thought of him as one of the good guys in the unrelenting cesspool that is gaming Youtube.

    Now I'm really worried that Arin and/or Dan will turn out to secretly be serial killers or something.

      I mildly got into game grumps when jontron was around and think how they "broke up" was a bit strange..

        Knowing what I know about Jontron now, I'm kind of not surprised it didn't work out between him and Arin.

        Dan's way better anyway.

    What's terrible is the tweets by the woman he cheated on his wife with. She tweeted "I didn't mean to hurt anyone". Oh please, You knew the dude was married. Don't act all innocent. The other woman was also married at the time.

    They are both scumbags, Him even more because he is a pedophile.

    Somewhere, Jontron is sitting back, smiling to himself thinking "Vindicated."

      Did JonTron ever say something against ProJared?

        He's been pretty classy in all of it, not saying anything publicly, especially after that group dumped him unceremoniously a few years back over all that stupid rubbish. Now it's all come out, ProJared's a creep, solicits minors for lewd pictures (essentially making him a likely sex offender) and an all round scumbag, it was hilarious that his friend on the channel jumped in telling people to 'wait' and to 'see' while it was all hitting the fan and essentially assisting Projared in gaslighting his soon to be ex-wife. That sure worked out well...

          I do feel for Ross in all this, knowing that ProJared may have been instrumental in his divorce.
          But fuck it, he deserves better anyway. He just looks like he's dead inside in any recent photo.

          There is evidence of that 16-year-old minor being extremely sick for a couple of months when the supposed asking for nudes occurred. He is obviously lying...
          Watch jareds new video on the topic it is pretty interesting...
          What else is interesting is the belief of anything a news article tells you.
          I just found out about this guy his new video come up on my recommended if you are wondering.
          I believe what Jared said just for the minor part as he showed clear evidence of this Chai individual claiming to be unable to move out of bed, yet at the same time claiming to have been trading nudes with Jared.

            I saw that too, but it doesn't excuse his nailing his mates girlfriend, that's just a pure dog act.

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