Celebrities getting a little too comfortable with their fans is nothing new. It's natural when things get physical, as long as we’re talking about consenting adults. Unfortunately, celebrities getting too close to underage fans is a tale old as time. Music’s Hall of Fame are rife with sordid tales of the dark side- celebrities who used their star factor to groom underage fans.
The 1950s 60s, 70s, and 80s are musical decades full of timeless songs composed and performed by influential artists who happened to be involved romantically with younger fans. And then we have 1990s, which were practically dominated by the mountain storm of accusations of inappropriate contact with young fans that plagued Michael Jackson even after his acquittal (and still remain to this day). And recent controversy in Hollywood is revealing unsettling things about many of our favorite stars.
With some of the scandals, you could easily make the claim that, “Things were different back then!” If that's the case, why do so many modern celebrities continue to get caught in scandals involving underaged fans even though they are fully aware of the consequences? This list is a roundup of scandals in the last decade involving celebrities getting too close to to their underaged fans.
15 Nelly Gets Little Too Close On Stage
In early October 2017, Southern rapper Nelly made headlines when he was accused of assaulting a fan on his tour bus. While those charges were later dropped, it’s what happened on a stage in Washington state that had Nelly trending on social media. Not too long after being accused of assault, troubling video emerged of the rapper creepily engaging with what appears to be a teenage fan. After encouraging the young girl to stay in school, he gets up in her face and begins stroking her hair. The video uploaded to Twitter was retweeted more than 25,000 times. It led other people to respond that Nelly did the same routine for his shows, and always with a young fan. In true Twitter fashion, people responded with cringe worthy GIFs, while many victims of abuse spoke against Nelly, recounting the time when they were “groomed” by adults as a child.
14 James Franco - Caught Creeping On A 17-Year-Old
Actor/director/screenwriter Yale Ph.D student James Franco almost landed in hot water in April 2014 when he was caught creeping in the DM of a 17 year old Scottish girl visiting the United States. She met Franco in New York after the Broadway performance of his show, Of Mice and Men. The imgur post with all the screenshots has since been deleted, but we all know the internet has receipts. The teen was delighted when Franco asked her to tag him in her Instagram post, which is how he was able to contact her online. After asking the teen if she had a boyfriend, he asks her age, to which she replies, “nearly 18.” This is where things get creepy. Even after he knew the Scottish teen was underage, he still goes on to ask if he should visit her at her hotel or “Should I rent a room?” Yeah.
13 Taylor Swift - Cuddle Time With A Kennedy
Years before she was frolicking on the beaches of Cape Cod with Tom Hiddleston in an obviously not-staged relationship that was clearly not for publicity, Taylor Swift was spotted cuddling on the very same beaches with Connor Kennedy, the great nephew of the the John F. Kennedy. For those who are wondering, “Who?” remember: T. Swift has a long list of lovers, so don’t feel bad if you forgot his name. It was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it romance, but T. Swift courted a bit of controversy back in 2012 when she embarked on a summer fling with Connor. At the time, Taylor was 22 and Connor? Still an 18 year old high school student! In the case of this particular relationship, it appears that Taylor, and not Connor, was the starstruck fan. Sources cite Taylor’s obsession with the Kennedy family as a reason behind the breakup.
12 The Game Slides Into A Teen's DM
Rapper and actor The Game may have gotten his start as a rapper in the West Coast hip hop scene and an artist under Dr. Dre's influential record label, Aftermath Records, but he’s also known for his ability to slide into the DMs of teenage girls. In the summer of 2017, a teen claimed that The Game sent her a heart emoji in a DM after she posted on Instagram. Afterwards, a second teen came out to say the The Game had contacted her, too. He allegedly called her several times on a blocked phone number and linked her to his private Snapchat. Supporters of the rappers say that The Game should not be responsible for how teenage girls misrepresent themselves on social media, wearing sexually suggestive clothes and wearing makeup to make themselves look older. The girls counter by saying their ages were clearly in their bio.
11 Akon - Another Onstage Disaster
There was a time when rapper/singer Akon was featured in nearly every rap song. Then he just sort of...disappeared. Supposedly, discovering Lady Gaga earned him so much money that he never has to work again. It seems that all worked out for him financially, because in 2007 Akon lost out on a $3 million sponsorship deal with Verizon after video emerged of him performing an indecent dance with an underage fan at one of his shows. Fans came out in support of the rapper after it was revealed that the 15 year old in question allegedly used a fake ID to enter to concert. To make matters worse, the young woman turned out to be the daughter of a pastor. Yikes. Nevertheless, Akon apologized, saying, "I want to sincerely apologize for the embarrassment and any pain I've caused to the young woman who joined me on stage...It was never my intention to embarrass or take advantage of my fans in any way, especially those under the age of 18.”
10 Austin Jones - The Twerking Fiasco
Another nominee for the “Who?” category, Austin Jones at one point was a musician and YouTuber commanding an impressive 500,00 subscribers and 33 million views. He was one of the “first” YouTubers, getting his start in 2007. He quickly learned that he could use his fame to reach out to young, impressionable fans, and started reaching out to girls. Not women, girls. There were several reports in 2015 of him getting young girls to record themselves twerking, but efforts to launch an investigation, but nothing came to fruition. Karma got him in June 2017. Homeland Security Investigations ambushed him at Chicago O'hare Airport on two counts of child pornography. The videos in question were clips that Austin encouraged an underage teenage fan to make. Too bad the cameras weren’t around- it would have been the perfect YouTube clip.
9 Paul Walker - Lucky Number 16
Having Paul Walker on this list may be hard for some. Whether you love (or hate) the Fast and Furious franchise, there’s something to be said about Paul’s love for his co-stars, his “family.” He was always a fan favorite of the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Award. So, what’s the deal about him being inappropriate with teens? Right around the time of the actor’s unexpected and tragic death in November 2013, rumors emerged that his girlfriend, Jasmine Pilchard-Gosnell, was 16 when the pair started dating. Another woman, Aubrianna Atwell, came forward to say the she was also in a relationship with the actor when she was 16 and he was 28. Considering that these reports came out right when he died, fans were outraged. The reporters who broke the news fought back by saying that they have a duty to tell the truth, regardless of the timing.
8 R. Kelly's Grainy Videotape
R. Kelly and his penchant for preying on underage fans is nothing new, but every time a scandal erupts, he walks away unscathed. His preference for young girls has made headlines throughout the 1990s, starting with a short marriage in 1994 to the R&B teen superstar Aaliyah. Looking back, the public should have known better considering he produced her debut album, titled Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number. In 2002, grainy videotape of R. Kelly engaging in indecent acts with a minor hit the web, but charges were later dropped. These scandals were largely forgotten until recently in August 2017 where a teen claimed to have been brainwashed by R. Kelly and that he was running a cult. Part of R. Kelly’s resilience stems largely in part to produce and perform Grammy award winning hit after hit.
7 Xander Berkeley's Teenage Scandal
If you’re unfamiliar with the name, “Xander Berkeley,” perhaps you’ll know him for his role of Gregory in the AMC TV series, The Walking Dead. Taking advantage of his connection to the hit TV show, news reports immediately created clickbait titles like “The Walking Dead Star Caught in Teenage Scandal,” which led fans to believe that it was their fave. The actor reached out to a teen on Twitter after being attracted to her user icon. What resulted was an innocent conversation that suddenly turned sketchy. The teen later put the actor on blast, posting screencaps of their illicit conversations: “We went from talking about my passions and what I wanted to pursue career wise to this.” “This” being requests to take a suggestive selfie and of course, nude photos. Did we also mention that Xander at the time was a 61 year old married man and father of two?
6 Justin Bieber's Search For Love
Beliebers might wonder when their dear Justin ever did anything inappropriate with an underage fan, but don’t worry- the internet knows all and forgets nothing. In fact, even casual fans of Justin Bieber might remember this incident. In 2015, Justin posted a photo on Instagram of a strikingly beautiful girl, asking his millions of followers simply captioned, “Omg who is this!!” She was later revealed to be a 17 year old beauty living in Spain - and days before Justin set off a worldwide search, she had even uploaded a clip of her listening to the star’s latest single. A few days later he made a slightly inappropriate joke to underage fans during a charity concert in Toronto, but the hype over the mystery girl overshadowed any outrage. As for the mystery fan? She’s now Instagram verified with an impressive 3.5 million followers.
5 YG's Inappropriate Demand
Rapper YG landed himself in trouble in the Land Down Under in June 2017 during an all-ages show in Brisbane. Now, rappers causing trouble on stage is nothing new, but it was the rapper’s remarks that had everyone going WTF? In a misguided attempt to hype up his audience, the rapper asked his fans go take off their tops. This in itself in pervy, but added to the fact that he was performing to an audience of teenagers makes things skeevy. The rapper didn’t realize his mistake until a security guard came on stage and told YG that it was 13 and older crowd. The rapper covered his tracks by backtracking and stammering, “Oh s**t, y'all are underage, I can't f**k with y'all.' 'Y'all take your a** to school and s**t."
4 Stephen Collins - A Disturbing Discovery
Yep, the dad from TV’s 7th Heaven caused a HUGE scandal in December 2014 when he confessed during a 20/20 interview with Katie Couric that he engaged in “sexual misconduct” with not one, not two, but three underage girls. And, to top it off, he tried to convince viewers that he was not a pedophile, by saying, ““I'm a human being. I have faults, and I've done things that I deeply regret.” So, how exactly did Pastor Eric Camden get caught? His wife snitched. Allegedly. He claims that his then-wife recorded his confession during a marriage counseling session. She claims that she had no hand in the audio making its way public. Either way, the truth got out, and as a result, Stephen Collins became a pariah, losing out on movie and TV roles. And not a single tear was shed.
3 Tyga - Fresh Eyes Only
Raise your hand if you are legitimately surprised to see Tyga on this list. Fans of the Kardashian clan will remember that Kylie and Tyga first got acquainted at big sister Kendall’s Sweet Sixteen birthday in 2011. Those of you who prefer to not keep up with the Kardashian wonder which ones are “Kylie” and “Kendall” but don't worry about that- focus on the underage drama. At the time of the birthday party performance, Kylie was 14 and very clearly starstruck over the 21 year old rapper. The pair began dating in 2014 but did not go public until Kylie’s 18th birthday. Most of the drama comes from the age difference and the fact that Tyga left his fiancée/baby mama (Blac Chyna) for the little sister of his fiancée’s friend at the time, Kim Kardashian. Tragic.
2 Doug Hutchinson Falls In Love With A Student
The story of Doug Hutchinson and his acting student turned-teen wife, Courtney Stodden, is a mess and a half. So, where do we begin? Well, back to the acting classes. Before Doug Hutchinson made headlines in 2011 for being married to a 16 year old, he was known for his roles in The Green Mile, and The X-Files and Lost. Not exactly famous, but you’d recognize him for his roles. Somewhere along the way he opened up an acting school and fell in love with his student. While Courtney’s mother praised the actor and gave her blessings to the union, everyone in Doug’s circle cut ties - his agent quit and his family (rightfully) said, “Bye Felicia!” 6 years later, the May-December couple are still going strong despite threats of divorce and an unfortunate miscarriage. It must be true love.
1 Marcus Wilton Preys On Fans
Another YouTuber using his fame and influence to prey on underage fans is Marcus Wilton. Known on YouTube as LionMaker, with 600,000 subscribers, he had an unlimited pool of fans to creep on. He’d repeatedly make contact via Skype or Twitter to fans who caught his eye and asked them to send inappropriate images or videos in exchange for money. The accusation against Marcus Wilton also exposed another skeevy side of online communities: When the teens spoke out, or even when their parents became involved, they were blocked from Marcus’ Twitter, and his fans would attack them, claiming that they were faking the Twitter DMs. So, every time a scandal involving underage kids online breaks out, don't’ assume that the parents aren’t doing anything. But when you’re going against a YouTuber who makes millions of dollars and have millions of fans, it’s certainly an uphill battle.
Sources: Consequenceofsound.net, DailyMail.com RealCoolNation.com, Buzzfeed.com, OhNoTheyDidnt, Vice.com. NYMGamer.com, Mirror.co.uk, Alloy.com, DailyMail. ABCNews.com