YouTube star Sam Pepper faces sexual harassment claims

01/10/14

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Newsbeat has been speaking exclusively to a number of women who claim to have been sexually harassed by Sam Pepper.

Six women have told us they've been touched inappropriately or had indecent conversations with the YouTube star.

Some have asked to remain anonymous while others have posted their claims online.

Sam Pepper has not directly responded to Newsbeat but his legal team told us he "denies any and all accusations that have been made against him."

Dottie Martin was the first to go online.

The 18-year-old, who has waived her right to anonymity, claimed she had felt uncomfortable during a date to the cinema with the YouTube star.

"He tried to touch me around my chest area and I moved his hand away because I wasn't comfortable with that," she told Newsbeat.

She said they did kiss and were holding hands, but the 25-year-old went too far.

"He had his other hand on my leg and started moving it further up my leg which I really wasn't comfortable with," she said.

Dottie says she pushed him away a number of times.

"He was holding my hand and he put it on his crotch area and moved it closer, but I pulled it away," she said.

"Unfortunately I felt like that was to be expected. I felt I was doing something I wasn't meant to be doing, which was refusing."

Facebook messages

Another YouTuber went online to say she had received messages on Facebook from Sam Pepper when she was 15.

We have removed the woman's name from the messages.

She claims he is listed as a "Facebook User" in the picture because he blocked her.

We have been unable to independently verify that the messages were from Sam Pepper.

The woman, who is now 18, says the conversations then went onto Skype.

Facebook and Skype messages

The Skype user speaking to the woman appears to ask for a "naked dance" then says "needs more boobs".

Following Newsbeat's coverage of the backlash following Sam Pepper's Fake Hand Ass Pinch Prank, one woman in her 20s got in touch to say she was sexually assaulted by the star at his home two years ago.

She said she didn't want to go public because she works in the industry.

Sam Pepper in 'Fake Hand Ass Pinch Prank' video
Image caption Sam Pepper in 'Fake Hand Ass Pinch Prank' video

Three other women have spoken exclusively to Newsbeat to claim they were indecently groped or assaulted at a YouTube gathering in London.

In a written email, one of these women wrote: "It is one thing that has greatly upset me over the years."

We did not receive any direct complaints relating to sexual assault claims at this year's event
Statement from YouTube event organisers

Another said: "It was all in a playful way which made me think I couldn't complain.

"I complained to the organiser who said they had received many complaints about him and told me they would get him off the site."

A statement from the organisers of the YouTube convention said: "We did not receive any direct complaints relating to sexual assault claims at this year's event.

"We take all claims of this very seriously and have acted upon anything that has come to light recently (and early this year with other YouTubers) by banning anyone known to act against the interests of our attendees."

Out of the six women who have come forward, only one woman says she is considering going to the police.

The others say they will not speak out for fear of getting online abuse.

Sam Pepper and Mazzi Maz
Image caption Mazzi Maz and Sam Pepper appeared on videos together

The initial backlash began after Sam Pepper posted his Fake Hand Ass Pinch Prank online.

The video received a number of complaints saying that it was a form of sexual harassment and it was taken down after a few days.

His co-star Mazzi Maz spoke to Newsbeat at the time to say he had "gone too far".

Sam Pepper then uploaded another video of a woman doing the same to men and that was also removed within minutes.

Finally the star released The Reveal, where he claimed the videos were all part of a social experiment to highlight sexual harassment against men.

Laci Green
Image caption Laci Green has written a letter to Sam Pepper asking him to take down his prank videos involving women

Laci Green has a sex education show on YouTube with more than one million subscribers.

She wrote an open letter to Sam Pepper asking him to stop assaulting women, which has received more than 100,000 signatures.

She told Newsbeat: "Harassment and bullying is bad on the online community.

"Big powerful YouTubers are connecting through social media with fans, some of whom are very young.

"So, the power dynamics are very off and that creates an environment where some people that are predatory will take advantage of the situation."

Pepper has more than two million YouTube subscribers and has made a name for himself filming prank-style videos.

Sam Pepper has not directly responded to Newsbeat but his legal team told us he "denies any and all accusations that have been made against him."

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