After her mother, Tiffany Rockelle was accused of child abuse, Piper Rockelle, a 14-year-old social media star with a sizable following on YouTube, was thrust into the spotlight. The allegations have sparked outrage on social media and sparked a contentious discussion about the morality of child stardom and the duties of parents in overseeing their kids’ careers. We will examine the allegations of abuse and the responses from both supporters and detractors in more detail in this article.
Piper Rockelle Mother Faces Abuse Allegations
In a trial that begins on Monday, 11 teen content creators who were featured on the channel owned by the mother of a teenage YouTube star will make allegations of emotional, physical, and s*xual abuse against her. A rare look into the lucrative and largely unregulated world of young YouTube stardom will be provided by the court proceedings.
All of the teen plaintiffs claim in the January 2022 complaint that Piper Rockelle’s mother Tiffany Smith intentionally caused them emotional harm while she was in a position of “care and control” over them during the creation of content for Rockelle’s YouTube channel. According to the complaint, the teen creators claim that “harassment, molestation, and abuse” caused them to suffer physical and psychological harm.
All of the plaintiffs claim they were not paid for their work and appearances, despite claiming they had been promised payment, and some claim they were not paid for the use of their likenesses to promote Rochelle’s content. Concerned outsiders have repeatedly expressed interest in some of the Smith allegations, providing a window into the “Wild West” world of YouTube child stardom.
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There are surprisingly few rules governing the production of social media content featuring children, and YouTube itself disclaims responsibility for the behavior of its creators away from the screen. Instead, Smith and her boyfriend, Hunter Hill, who the complaint names as the creator and editor of Rockelle’s YouTube channel, are being sued by the teenagers for a combined minimum of $22 million in damages.
The plaintiffs were all formerly a part of Piper Rochelle’s “Piper Squad,” a group of young people who were featured on her over 10 million-subscriber YouTube channel. The “Squad” cast is made up of young children and teenagers, and millions of viewers watch as they interact and have fun. The plaintiffs claimed that despite their age, they were asked to perform romantic “crushes” on each other for the benefit of impressionable young audiences.
The dynamics of the “Squad” and romantic storylines have allegedly led to problems like online bullying and harassment of their children, according to the complaint and the mothers of the former “Squad” members, six of whom spoke to NBC News. According to the complaint and the mothers, Smith has traumatized their kids.
Ashley Anne-Rock Smith, whose two daughters, both plaintiffs, are Rockelle’s cousins and appeared in 94 videos on her channel, stated,
“I just want peace back with my kids.”
She said, “I want all predators who harm young kids to be punished. “I also hope we make progress on these platforms that permit this,” said the speaker. Requests for comments from YouTube were not promptly answered.
Smith countersued for $30 million in July and accused the mothers of the plaintiffs of collaborating to extort money by making false accusations of s*xual abuse. Before the mothers could respond, Smith voluntarily dropped the lawsuit, and one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, Matthew Sarelson, referred to it as “baseless.”
A request for comment from Smith’s lawyer went unanswered. Smith stated that at the time the videos were being filmed with Rockelle, she did not view herself as the plaintiffs’ employer in an interview with the Los Angeles Times that was published in December. Smith informed the Times that she has since obtained a permit to work with minors.
Smith is Accused of Child Abuse and Retaliation
The plaintiffs called Smith a “mean-spirited control freak” and claimed she made comments about children’s genitalia, shouted profane and s*xually explicit remarks at them, encouraged them to be “s*xy” and “se*ually aggressive” in videos, and inappropriately touched the kids on their legs, thighs, and buttocks.
The allegations were contained in the 147-page complaint. According to one of the plaintiffs, Smith informed her that she was mailing Rochelle’s underwear to a man who liked to “sniff” it. Steevy Areeco, the mother of a different plaintiff, said of her children, “As children, they don’t understand it, sometimes it goes over their heads.” But as they get older, they begin to comprehend the trauma that was brought on by the comments made to them and the phony crushes.
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Areeco and a few of the other parents and plaintiffs had prior experience in conventional media before joining the “Squad.” The lawyer, Sarelson, told NBC News that non-traditional filming locations, such as YouTube, are exempt from the rules for child actors on TV and movie sets.
According to Areeco, the “Squad” wasn’t acting because Smith wanted the kids to have “real reactions” and “force them to live these adult situations they shouldn’t have been put in.” “We all adore YouTube, and it’s a wonderful platform, but when someone uses it for profit and attracts young viewers, those people should uphold a certain standard,” Areeco said. “We want to see safeguards for the kids.”