Greek police have arrested a YouTuber accused of systematically abusing mentally handicapped people on videos live-streamed to paying customers on social media.
A police statement said the 35-year-old suspect arrested in Athens on Tuesday faces charges of human trafficking and causing bodily harm to vulnerable people.
It said the abuse included “constant swearing, bodily harm and sexual acts, which spectators watching the live-streaming requested and had paid for.”
Police said two people found in the suspect’s home, who had been allegedly subjected to live-streamed abuse early Tuesday, were placed in care.
The following video contains scenes that viewers may find disturbing:
Victims of abuse by the YouTuber share harrowing stories
Shocking details about the exploitation they experienced were shared on the ANT1 television station by two of the YouTuber’s victims.
“He had taken advantage of us,” a victim said hiding his face. “He beat me badly with punches, spitting and body blows. Many subscribers were watching online, and they made… ‘donations on order.'”
“Some customers offered to pay 10 euros if he [would] slap us or make us sing and dance…The worst part is that he would give alcohol to 15- to 17-year-old girls, and make them dance provocatively,” the victim said.
Another victim said the YouTuber took advantage of him because he knew of his desire to take part in a reality talent show.
“He told me ‘I’m going to make you number one, [and] I’m going to make you famous,'” he said. The victim also said the suspect kept all the money and gave the victims very little.
“He has beaten and taken advantage of many people. Everything was happening at the YouTuber’s house, where many famous people had also come,” he added.
Some YouTubers and other social media users are breaking the law in Greece and abroad to get more views and money. Videos depicting abuse might attract views, which can lead to ad revenue for the YouTuber. Some viewers might donate to or sponsor YouTubers who create content about abuse even if it exploits the victim.
However, there are also other illegal videos uploaded on YouTube that pertain to topics besides the abuse of vulnerable people. In December 2023 a 30-year-old Youtuber from California was sentenced to six months in federal prison due to staging a plane crash.
The court found Trevor Daniel Jacob guilty of obstructing the investigation by manipulating the crash site for the sake of creating content for his YouTube channel. This sentencing reflects the legal repercussions of his actions in exploiting a serious incident for online entertainment.