Rylett, 55 years old, is behind the YouTube network known as SevenAwesomeKids. He was arrested on Aug. 16 at his hotel room in Orange County, Florida, according to a police report obtained by BuzzFeed News. The creator was charged with "lewd or lascivious battery of a minor less than 16," after a young woman reported an attack in that very hotel room.
The alleged victim was not identified by name or age, except that she was under 16 years old. She told police that Rylett "touched her breasts and fondled her while repeatedly making her undress, eventually attempting to forcefully remove her underwear." She said that all of this was done in a state of professional panic, as Rylett "threatened to use the contract to fine her if she did not comply with his demand."
Rylett reportedly pleaded not guilty to the charges. Neither he nor his lawyer responded to request for comment, but he is expected to stand trial by the end of the year. He also surrendered his passport, meaning he will not return to his home in the United Kingdom until after the trial is settled.
Rylett helped found one of the biggest brands on YouTube, going all the way back to 2008. SevenAwesomeKids spawned many more channels, including SevenPerfectAngels, SevenFabulousTeens and SevenTwinklingTeens. All feature daily content from a rotating cast of young girls — some as young as 8 years old and some as old as 18.
Altogether, Rylett's network has about 17 million subscribers, and racks up a reliable number of views. He pays each of the 20 girls on his site a monthly salary, while handing the monetization of his network himself. Some of those creators spoke to BuzzFeed News about working with Rylett, and said that they were angry with both him and YouTube.
"I was telling my mom two years ago that, if this was a real entertainment business — you know, with rules — I'd report him in an instant," one girl said. "But I can't because there's nobody here to help me."
YouTube issued a statement to BuzzFeed, but did not respond directly to the allegations gainst Rylett.
"We take safety on YouTube very seriously," it read. "We work closely with leading child safety organizations and others in our industry to protect young people. When we're made aware of serious allegations of this nature we take action, which may include suspending monetization, or, upon conclusion of an investigation, terminating the channel."