YouTube star James Charles has apologised after he admitted messaging underage boys.
The beauty guru, 21, shared a 14-minute video titled “holding myself accountable” and said he had engaged in “flirty” conversations with two 16-year-olds.
Charles, who has more than 25 million subscribers on YouTube, said he believed the boys were 18 – the age of consent in California, where he lives – when they started talking on Snapchat.
He said: “In both of these cases, I added these people on Snapchat, asked how old they were right away, was told that they were 18, believed them, engaged in a flirty conversation and then later on found out that they were actually 16.
“Upon finding out, I was immediately embarrassed and blocked both people.”
Charles added: “I f***** up. These conversations should’ve never happened, point blank, period. There is no excuse for it, there is no ifs, ands or buts and I take full responsibility for that.”
Charles said he should have taken a closer look at the boys’ social media profiles and realised their true ages.
He added: “As an adult, it is my job and my responsibility to verify who I’m talking to, and therefore there is no one else to blame for this but myself.”
And apologising to the boys, Charles said: “To the guys involved in the situation, I wanna say I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I flirted with you and I’m really sorry if I ever made you uncomfortable. It is completely unacceptable.”
Charles said his behaviour was “reckless” and stemmed from the fact he is “desperate” for a relationship.
He said he is “absolutely” not looking for a younger boyfriend.
Charles said: “My hope has always been to be in a relationship with somebody around my age or older that I can relate to or that can make me laugh and unfortunately, I have not been able to find that person yet.”
The influencer also addressed the “power imbalance” between him and his fans.
He said: “What I wasn’t getting before is that the excitement that comes with talking to a celebrity is literally enough to make somebody do or say something they normally wouldn’t.
“Even if that celebrity isn’t even intentionally weaponising their fame, money or power. That’s the concept I just wasn’t getting, but I now do.”
This is not the first time Charles, who grew his vast social media audience by posting makeup video tutorials, has been accused of inappropriate behaviour.
In 2019 he was accused of trying to “manipulate” people’s sexuality, with his fellow YouTube star Tati Westbrook saying Charles had tried to “trick a straight man into thinking he’s gay”.