Sponsors drop YouTuber David Dobrik after his former collaborator is accused of rape
David Dobrik, a famous YouTuber known for his prank videos, was dropped by multiple sponsors amid growing backlash after a woman accused a member of his popular ensemble of rape.
A woman alleged that former "Vlog Squad" member Dom Zeglaitis sexually assaulted her in 2018 while the group filmed a video about group sex, according to an investigation first reported by Insider. The woman alleged that Dobrik filmed her as she entered Zeglaitis' bedroom where she was involved in a threesome.
She told the publication that she was too incapacitated by alcohol during the evening to give consent and described the experience as rape. NBC News has not spoken to the accuser.
Zeglaitis and his representative did not respond to multiple NBC News requests for comment. Zeglaitis has not publicly addressed the allegation.
The fallout for Dobrik, who has seen a meteoric rise to fame with his fast-paced comedy videos on YouTube, was swift.
Companies HelloFresh, General Mills, DoorDash, SeatGeek, and EA Sports confirmed to NBC News on Monday that they were no longer working with Dobrik.
A DoorDash spokeswoman told NBC News in an email that the company “profoundly condemns the behavior of the Vlog Squad members, and we have terminated our sponsorship of David Dobrik's podcast 'Views.’”
“This horrific misconduct is incongruous with DoorDash's values and does not represent the communities we strive to create. Our thoughts are with all those impacted,” the spokeswoman said.
EA Sports said that the company has not worked with Dobrik since April 2020 and had no plans to work with him in the future.
“We expect any influencer or celebrity talent we work with to conduct themselves in a manner that is consistent with EA's values and policies,” the company said.
Among the other sponsors that ended their working relationship with Dobrik were Dollar Shave Club, Audible, Facebook and HBO Max, Insider reported. The companies did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
On Sunday, Dobrik said in a statement to The Information that he would step down from the board of Dispo, a photo-app that he co-founded, and would leave the company in order to "not distract from the company's growth."
And on Monday, venture capital firm Spark Capital, which led a $20 million investment in Dispo, announced on Twitter they would “sever all ties” with the start-up.
"We have stepped down from our position on the board and we are in the process of making arrangements to ensure we do not profit from our recent investment in Dispo," the company said in a statement.
Seven Seven Six, another early investor of Dispo, also issued a statement on Twittersaying the allegations involving Dobrik are “extremely troubling” and “directly at odds with Seven Seven Six’s core values.”
"We have been working closely with Dispo over the last week and are in full support of their decision to part ways with David," the company said on Monday. "We have made the decision to donate any profits from our investment in Dispo to an organization working with survivors of sexual assault."
Dobrik uploaded the 2018 video — titled, "SHE SHOULD NOT HAVE PLAYED WITH FIRE!!" — a few days after the incident, according to Insider. When the woman asked Zeglaitis to remove the video, the video had already garnered 5 million views, the publication reported. The video was removed following her request.
The accuser has not reported the incident to authorities, and no charges have been filed against Zeglaitis, Insider reported.
NBC News was unable to independently corroborate the woman's claims, texts, and video from the evening. A representative for Dobrik did not respond to multiple NBC News requests for comment.
In a seven-minute video uploaded to his personal YouTube channel early Tuesday, Dobrik apologized and said it "broke his heart" he didn't reach out earlier to the women who said they were uncomfortable during the filming of the video in 2018.
"I want to start this video by saying I fully believe the woman who came out against Dom and said she was sexually assaulted and raped by him," Dobrik said.
He said he had a responsibility to ensure that everyone who appeared in that video felt safe and that he created an environment that he "enabled and made them feel like their safety and values were compromised."
Dobrik added while he got approval from the woman via text to post the video in 2018, he "should have never posted it."
"What I understand now and I didn't understand before is that she sent that text because she felt she had to — not that she wanted to — and that's f—d up, and I'm sorry," he said.
After Insider's story was published, Dobrik said in a video posted last week on his podcast's YouTube channel that "consent is something that's super, super important to me, whether I'm shooting with a friend or shooting with a stranger."
“I’m sorry if I’ve let you down,” he said. “There’s also been moments where I’ve looked back on videos, and I realize that these don’t represent me anymore, and they’re hurtful to other people, and I don’t want them up because I’ve grown as a content creator and as a person, and I don’t agree with some of the videos I’ve posted.”
In last week's video, Dobrik also addressed another sexual assault allegation involving him and another former "Vlog Squad" member, Joseth Francois.
In February, Francois told Buzzfeed News that a prank Dobrik pulled on him in 2017 was sexual assault. In the video, Francois was tricked into believing he was kissing a woman; in reality, he kissed current “Vlog Squad” member, Jason Nash, who is a man.
"The point of the video is to sexually assault me," Francois said. "That's the whole premise."
A spokesperson for Francois told NBC News in an email Tuesday that Francois had not received a “direct call” or a “personal apology” from Dobrik and Nash. Nash did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
"I’m sorry to Seth, because like I said, I just want to make videos where everybody in it, whether you’re participating or watching, is enjoying and having a good time,” Dobrik said in the video last week. “And I missed the mark with that one. And I’m really sorry. I truly, truly am.”
Since 2014, Dobrik has amassed nearly 19 million subscribers on his personal YouTube channel.
Dobrik said in his most recent apology video that he stopped filming with Zeglaitis in 2019.
He added that he would take a step back from social media to build out a "checks and balances" system where "people communicate discomfort in a way that's comfortable for them."
"It doesn't feel right to go back to posting like I have been, and it also doesn't feel right to go dark because I love what I do, but I think it is important to show that change is possible and that I'm learning maybe even forgiveness is possible," Dobrik said.
"I want to use this opportunity to step up and own my mistakes," he said. "This is my beginning to an end, and I'm sorry to everyone that I hurt."
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673. The hotline, run by the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN), can put you in contact with your local rape crisis center. You can also access RAINN’s online chat service at https://www.rainn.org/get-help.
Source: Read Full Article