CHICAGO — A Chicago federal judge has freed a YouTube singer with millions of teenage followers as he awaits trial on two counts of producing child pornography for allegedly asking underage fans via social media to send him sexually explicit videos of themselves.
The judge at Thursday's hearing also ordered 24-year-old Austin Jones to stay off the internet and to remain in his mother's suburban Chicago home.
Fans know Jones for his coiffed blond hair and cheerful persona. But he sounded somber telling the court he understood his release conditions.
Jones has covered Justin Bieber songs and had started to parlay his online popularity into tours. He faces a minimum 15-year prison term if convicted. He allegedly instructed one 14-year-old girl to be more sexually explicit in videos to prove she was his "biggest fan."