Youtube is becoming more well known for the figures of scandal it keeps churning out of the video machine.
Before James Charles, Trisha Paytas and other high profile YouTube celebrities who choose to live their lives mostly in front of the lens of a camera for the world to watch, there was a pale faced, mop-haired, awkward twenty-something who used the name Onision. Without question he was among the first wave of web-stars to come off the platform, having joined 2006.
By 2010, he was named by TubeFilter as one of “5 YouTubers On Their Way Up” alongside such platform icons like Shane Dawson, but by 2012 had been banned by VidCon for problematic statements, specifically about his ex-girlfriend who he claimed “Had sex with more than 20 people” thus was incapable of being raped. Justifiably, people complained.
In the years since, Onision, now in his mid-30’s, has accrued both wealth and a significant fanbase, boasting over 2 billion video views and as many subscribers across multiple channels who consume his content, featuring his daily life and those in it, under a revealing microscope. It sounds like the typical vlogger dream-come-true, I suppose. Turn on a camera, get famous, earn ridiculous sums of money and thus, you win the internet.
Except, Onision’s story took a very dark, disturbing turn. Dating back to his earliest days, Onision, also known as Gregory Jackson, began uploading more and more intimate and extreme content, some of which allegedly showcased him filming a young woman having a health crisis in the shower. Rather than seek help for the woman, splayed on the floor of the shower, he films and then he edits…
… And then he uploads.
In this era where everyone is bidding for fame, many YouTube celebrity hopefuls are notorious for faking breakups, pranks, pregnancies and illnesses for the views. In more radical cases, we’ve seen parents charged with child neglect for forcing their children to act or perform for subscribers and another famous Youtuber uploaded a video which showed a dead body, an apparent victim of suicide. The efforts to make a grab for views on monetized videos has become increasingly desperate, thus warranting a watch with a more critical eye. Staging events for videos has become commonplace. Whether or not the video featuring the young lady in despair were real or scripted remains a debate- although wikipedia states; “ The clips were scripted, but were presented in a manner many fans interpreted as authentic.”
No one can say for sure if the events portrayed in Onision’s videos are authentic- because who would watch a young girl lay on the cold floor of a shower, trembling, speaking incoherently and unable to recognize her surroundings and do nothing about it? Who would exploit a young woman in such a vulnerable state by uploading a video of them in a state of crisis?
Her name was Shiloh. She would be just one of a large cast featuring many women in his orbit who would go public in the aftermath of their relationships with Onision to allege they were the victims of emotional and psychological abuse at his hand.
Some of the stories have common threads; Girls claiming Onision and, later, even his husband (A female to male transgender man with whom he has children) formally known as Lainey, now named Kai, would solicit them via social media- sometimes while they were underage. The origin of his relationship with is now husband is also worthy of a cringe- In a video released by Onision himself, he admitted that Kai was a minor when their relationship began and disclosed that he drove to another state where the age of consent was beneath 18 and he could legally engage in a sexual act with Kai. In that video he boasts that Kai’s Grandmother attempted to have him thrown in jail, but he was cleared by the police having done nothing illegal in that state. He was 24 at the time. Kai was 17.
Worse, however, was the case of Sarah, a fan, who claims she began exchanging online messages with Onision and Kai at the age of 13- according to Sarah, these missives became more adult orientated just a year later. Sarah was dealing with a troubled home life and by 16 years old, she had moved in with the couple with Kai becoming her power of attorney. Sarah maintains that no explicit sexual activity took place, just “romantic talks,” until four days after her 18th birthday.
There was also a young woman named Billie- Billie alleges that she engaged in a relationship with Onision and Kai simultaneously and that Onision pressured his wife (Now husband) to take her into their relationship. Billie says Onision outlined a series of controlling punishments for her after she confessed she had, against his wishes, smoked marijuana. In communication she shared on twitter that are allegedly from Onision, he provides a list of punishments for her disobedience, some that include she be chained in the basement, get a tattoo that says “I’m a liar” among others.
Billie claims that Onision “Likes to destroy people’s lives.”
Across YouTube, there are hundreds upon hundreds of videos discussing the allegations of ongoing abuse and even grooming of young girls that he invites into his relationship with Kai. Most videos uploaded by the girls who have made the allegation have been deleted in the years since they were uploaded, but have been republished by third parties, such as the one above.
It was just a week ago, however, that a twitter user posted a series of incredibly disturbing and damning accusations against the Youtube star. It is important to note, however, these tweets are coming from a new account and does not contain identifying information.
The previous tweets have been circulating widely across social media, a terrifying story which builds upon other allegations made by other young women.
At the height of Onision’s web-fame, voyeurs and drama-lovers alike would watch to see the tumultuous back and forth disputes between Onision and some of these girls, who were often dubbed as liars, as they attempted to defend themselves or worse- tell their story.
A little dive down the rabbit hole reveals a shocking and infuriating history of a man who, if all of this is true, has managed to evade accountability. Many commentators on the platform who discuss the life of Onision like an open secret state that, even if true, none of the allegations are against the law.
And they’re right, to tragic effect. Even two adults manipulating their way into obtaining custody of a minor that they later engage in a polyamorous sexual relationship with after she is a adult — is completely legal, even if indisputably a pox on one’s quality of character.
After all these years and so many sensational accusations, one must ask what weight they carry if Onision is still operating his channels, a Patreon fetching him a comfortable monthly stipend thanks to donors and a fan base that is mostly comprised of young or underage girls?
With movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp having brought violence, intimidation and predatory behavior against women to global attention, how does Onision suffer only the scrutiny of an angry community anxious to expose him and exterminate him from their space?
Few women who have gone public with their stories, many who have done interviews with high profile hosts on youtube, left their situation with only that. Their stories. The viewer watches to devour the shock, the outrage and the drama, which minimizes the horrific experiences of these women- as survivors of the abuse they collectively allege they endured.
The voices of victims are important. As the noise from outside the walls of these events often eclipses the voices of those trying to speak, it makes it more challenging to find a thread of coherence in a decade long timeline that is centralized on social media, although some have tried.
Throughout each video posted by those dissecting Onision, they emphasis that all citations of abuse are allegations- before playing voicemails of him threatening and intimidating his accusers.
Onision and Kai deny all accusations publicly made against them and maintain their innocence.