Jared Knabenbauer, better known as the popular gaming YouTuber “ProJared,” has been accused of soliciting nude photographs from and sending nude pictures to fans by at least seven people. Two of these fans allege that they were 16-years-old at the time of solicitation.
The accusations first came to light on May 9 in a series of tweets written by popular cosplayer and artist Heidi O’Ferrall, Knabenbauer’s wife, who alleges that the YouTuber created a Snapchat account in order to solicit nudes from fans. O’Ferrall also alleges that Knabenbauer cheated on her with Twitch streamer Holly Conrad and that she knew about Knabenbauer’s Snapchat solicitations but “felt pressured to allow it.”
Knabenbauer had posted a statement on Twitter hours earlier, announcing his divorce from O’Ferrall:
“My wife Heidi and I have filed for divorce. 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 rumors, speculation, and gossip going around. I ask that you make your own observations and come to your own conclusions.”
Knabenbauer has yet to address the allegations put forward by O’Ferrall and the seven people who say the YouTuber either sent them nudes or solicited nudes from them. One of Knabenbauer’s fans who claim they were underage at the time of the solicitation, a Twitter user who goes by the name Chai, said that the YouTuber “sexually manipulated me via Tumblr when I was 16.”
Another fan told Kotaku in a direct message on Twitter that they also traded nude pictures with Knabenbauer at “about the same age as Chai.”
“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,” they said.
Yet another fan, Daniella Shafran, described to Kotaku how Knabenbauer sent her nudes (many of which are now circulating Twitter and Reddit) through Snapchat after asking her age. She was 21 at the time.
“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 said.
According to Kotaku, Knabenbauer received nude photos from fans for years on Tumblr. O’Ferrall explained that she accepted Knabenbauer’s Tumblr as “a body-positive space for consenting adults, and I approved on that basis.” She now regrets “enabling” Knabenbauer to run a Tumblr “just for nudes.”
“I used to think that among consenting adults, it was fine,” O’Ferrall 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 apologize for my role in enabling this.”
Knabenbauer has been a mainstay of the YouTube gaming scene for the past few years, producing let’s plays, reviews, and other videos for his over 1 million subscribers. Kotaku reports that in the days since the sexual misconduct allegations against the YouTuber came to light, Knabenbauer has lost thousands of subscribers.
We’ll keep you updated as we learn more.