11 Kids Sue YouTuber’s Mom, Alleging Abuse, Exploitation
- Eleven former members of Piper Rockelle’s “Piper Squad” are suing the teen’s mother.
- The defendants are accused of physical, emotional, verbal, and sexual abuse, the suit alleges.
- The lawsuit also alleges Tiffany Smith was sexually inappropriate with children.
Eleven kids who were formerly members of the YouTuber Piper Rockelle’s “Piper Squad” are suing the teen star’s mom and her boyfriend, alleging physical, emotional, verbal, and sexual abuse, as well as financial exploitation, according to court documents.
The children filed the suit in the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles, on Wednesday, alleging that Piper’s mother and her boyfriend didn’t pay them for video appearances, made sexually explicit comments about them, and tried to sabotage their YouTube channels after they stopped collaborating with Piper, according to the complaint.
They are seeking compensatory and punitive damages, the cost of attorney fees, and any other just relief allowed under California law.
Piper is a 14-year-old YouTube star whose channel has more than 8.8 million subscribers. Internet critics have questioned the appropriateness of her content for years, and the singer Pink accused her parents of exploiting her in August after Piper posted YouTube videos and Instagram photos in which she posed in a bikini.
Piper’s mother, Tiffany Smith, told Insider she wanted to “protect” her daughter in an emailed statement at the time.
The lawsuit alleges Piper’s mother earned a reputation within the “Piper Squad” as a “mean-spirited control freak” whose actions toward the children were “not only sexually inappropriate and confrontational, but often reprehensible and even illegal.”
The suit says Smith would often “verbally harass” and yell at the children if she felt they were doing something wrong in a video. It adds that caused many of them to break down in tears or be sent home to their families.
Smith and Hunter Hill, her boyfriend, are also accused of not paying the child stars for appearances in hundreds of videos for Piper’s YouTube channel, which collectively span thousands of hours of labor, the suit alleges. Court documents say Piper’s YouTube channel grew significantly after the 11 other children began making appearances in her videos.
Smith, Hill, Piper, and Piper’s manager did not respond to requests for comment.
Matthew Sarelson, the plaintiffs’ attorney, told Insider that “maybe every single thing that we’ve alleged has been corroborated by other eyewitnesses, including eyewitnesses who are not plaintiffs in this lawsuit.”
The suit alleges Tiffany Smith was sexually inappropriate with children
That suit alleges Smith made “wildly offensive and sexually explicit comments” to the children and accuses her of asking one child if they thought another child “has a bunch of freckles on his dick.”
“Plaintiffs would frequently hear Ms. Smith refer to another Squad member’s penis as ‘Dwayne the Rock Hard Johnson,'” the lawsuit says.
The complaint alleges one girl accompanied Smith when she went to the post office to mail some of Piper’s used underwear to “an unknown individual” and remarked to the girl that “old men like to smell this stuff.”
The suit says Smith would frequently pair the children up as pseudo “crushes” for the purpose of video content and alleges she gave them “very sexually explicit instructions” about how to act with each other and what to wear on camera. It alleges that girls were instructed to wear “short skirts and low cut tops” and that boys were instructed to wear “tight-fitting jeans” or sweatpants to show off their “bulges.”
“Ms. Smith would often boast to Plaintiffs and others about being the ‘Madam of YouTube’ and a ‘Pimp of YouTube’ and that she ‘makes kiddie porn,'” the lawsuit says.
Smith is accused in the suit of inappropriately touching multiple young girls on their legs and spanking them and poking their “anuses through their clothing.”
The suit also accuses Smith of rubbing one girl’s “exposed thighs and moving her hand toward her vagina” numerous times, as well as commenting on the size of her breasts and “attempting to squeeze them.”
The complaint alleges she tried “to spit” in the same girl’s “mouth and on her face” and accuses her of “taking a wooden spoon and smacking” her body with it.
Sarelson said “there’s a very strong likelihood that some of the things were actually caught on camera” since there are “maybe thousands of hours, collectively, of videotape that was made as part of the production process.”
Sarelson added they expected to gain access to the cameras during the discovery process of the lawsuit.
Smith and Hill ‘tanked’ other channels, lawsuit alleges
The suit says Smith and Hill engaged in “a variety of dirty tactics” against the plaintiffs’ YouTube channels after they left the Piper Squad.
It alleges these tactics included using “bots” to add and remove subscribers to affect their positions in YouTube’s recommendation algorithm, falsely flagging their videos as “inappropriate,” and embedding some of their videos on porn sites to get their videos restricted on YouTube.
Smith is also accused in the document of often telling Hill to “tank” the plaintiffs’ YouTube channels. As a result of the interference, the suit alleges, the plaintiffs lost a large number of subscribers and viewers, as well as a big amount of revenue.
The lawsuit also says the plaintiffs all immediately experienced a major decline in subscribers, views, and revenue upon leaving the squad.
“When you look at the analytics that YouTube provides,” Sarelson said, “there’s a demonstrable drop-off in viewership and subscriptions, which ultimately results in less revenue, for our clients once they disassociate from the squad.”
The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and special damages in an amount no less than what they say they collectively lost in revenue after leaving the squad, which the suit alleges is at least $2 million. They’re also seeking punitive damages and damages over allegations of severe emotional distress, grief, and humiliation.