Editor’s Note: This article contains mentions of sexual violence. Please take care while reading, and note the helpful resources at the end of this story.
Spark Capital, which led a massive fundraising round for Dispo in the past, cut ties hours earlier on March 22. HelloFresh, EA Sports and Dollar Shave Club are among other brands that have distanced themselves from Dobrik over the last few days.
The sudden hemorrhaging in support for Dobrik came after he addressed rape and sexual assault allegations against former and current members of his friend group known as the Vlog Squad.
The YouTuber addressed recent allegations of sexual assault and rape surrounding certain Vlog Squad videos he shared to his channel in his first apology.
The YouTuber rarely addresses controversy, so when he uploaded a two-and-a-half-minute video titled "Let's Talk" to his podcast's YouTube channel on March 16, some fans were surprised. He also turned off comments, so the "talk" was a bit one-sided.
Dobrik has been accused of creating a toxic environment within the Vlog Squad and forcing his collaborators to take part in sketches that made them uncomfortable for quite some time — but only recently have calls for a response from the creator reached critical mass.
In the video, Dobrik said he wanted to address “some conversations that have been going on” about his content.
“Consent is something that’s super, super important to me,” he said in the video. “Whether I am shooting with a friend or I am shooting with a stranger, I make sure whatever video I am putting out I have the approval from that person.”
Earlier that day, Insider shared an investigation into allegations from a woman who said she was raped while filming a 2018 Vlog Squad video that Dobrik shared on his channel.
The woman claimed was given alcohol by members of the group that got her intoxicated to the point that she blacked out. She alleged that she was involved in group sex that she did not consent to involving Vlod Squad member Dominykas Zeglaitis, who is also known as Durte Dom.
On Feb. 12, former Vlog Squad member Seth Francois said he had been tricked into kissing Dobrik’s close friend and podcast co-host Jason Nash in a Vlog Squad video. He called into the H3 podcast, which is hosted by Ethan and Hila Klein, and claimed the kiss was nonconsensual and was sexual assault.
Francois claimed he was under the illusion that he would be kissing influencer Corinna Kopf, who would be wearing a mask, not Nash. He said that he was traumatized by the experience.
“I’m just training my mind to just be strong enough to just like completely get over it,” he told Insider in an interview. “It wasn’t my fault. I didn’t sign up for it. I didn’t ask for that to happen to me. And it did. But that’s something that I just personally have to live with.”
He was inspired to come forward after another former Vlog Squad member, Nik “BigNik” Keswani, described his time in the Vlog Squad to the hosts of the H3 podcast as “toxic” and compared the group to a “cult.”
Ethan Klein has been fielding information about Dobrik and the Vlog Squad for weeks now alongside his Frenemies podcast co-host, Trisha Paytas.
Paytas, who has long been known for controversy and trolling behavior, has taken a serious turn in recent months as she has leveled claims of bad behavior against fellow YouTube superstar Shane Dawson, and separately, Dobrik.
Paytas’ feud with Dobrik goes back to February 2019, when she and Jason Nash — the Vlog Squad member that Francois accused of sexual assault — broke up.
Dobrik’s apology dodged details of the allegations.
In his calculated apology, Dobrik did not directly address the details of any of the allegations lodged against the Vlog Squad.
“With the Seth situation, I am sorry to Seth,” Dobrik said. “I just want to make videos where everyone who is participating is enjoying and having a good time. I missed the mark with that one, and I am really sorry. I truly, truly am.”
In February, Vlog Squad member Scotty Sire came to Dobrik’s defense in a YouTube video, claiming that Francois had given his consent for the kissing video. He also claimed that in a text, Francois said he was “down for another kissing sketch.” He said it was “all in good fun and [Francois] gave permission beforehand.”
Sire later apologized for the video and deleted it after receiving backlash from many people including Trisha Paytas, who called it “victim-blaming.” He said he let “emotion get the best of” him and “did not expect it to hurt so many people.”
Dobrik did not address Sire’s defense of him in his apology video, but referenced “times when people change their mind,” appearing to suggest that although he obtained consent at the start of the video, it may have been withdrawn after the fact in some situations.
Since then, the two videos in which Francois was “pranked” by Dobrik and Nash have been unlisted.
In his apology, Dobrik also said he was “disappointed with some of his friends,” appearing to reference Zeglaitis, and thus “separated from a lot of of them” adding that he does not “stand for any kind of misconduct.”
He also appeared to reference uncomfortable and offensive content beyond the sexual assault and rape allegations linked the Vlog Squad, including videos with Francois that featured racially insensitive jokes.
“There’s also been moments where I have looked back on videos, and I realized that these don’t represent me anymore, and they’re hurtful to other people, and I don’t want them up,” Dobrik said.
He concluded the video by saying the main purpose of his content is “to make people happy and inspire people.” He apologized to his fans for letting them down and assured them he has learned from his mistakes.
“I also believe actions speak a lot louder than words,” Dobrik said. “You can take my word for it that I’m going to change, but I will also show you and prove to you that mistakes I made before won’t be happening again.”
According to YouTube commentator Def Noodles, Dobrik has lost more than 100,000 subscribers on his main Youtube channel since sharing his apology video, suggesting that the apology has not been well-received.
Twitter users were critical of both his choice to disable comments on the video and its content.
“David Dobrik posted his bulls*** ‘apology’ video on his vlog channel and not his main channel where these vlogs and ‘bits’ happened,” one user wrote.
“David Dobrik how u finna name the video ‘let’s talk’ then disable comments,” another said.
“I can’t believe I used to watch David Dobrik’s nasty videos,” a third commented.
Dobrik issued a second apology after losing sponsors and shedding subscribers.
The YouTuber shared a stripped-down, seven-minute apology video titled "3/22/21" on his main channel on March 23 — a week after his first apology.
"I've put myself in a lot of situations where I need to apologize for my past actions and I've never done this correctly. I've never done this respectfully, and my last video is a testament to that," Dobrik said. "I don't want to defend that video. I don't want to delete that video. I just want to be clear."
He said he should have listened to women who alleged sexual harassment and created a safer environment for people to voice discomfort and added that he now understands he was creating an unfair "power dynamic" when creating videos that relied on "shock" for views.
"I want to start this video by saying I fully believe the woman who came out against Dom [Zeglaitis] and said she was sexually assaulted and raped by him," Dobrik said. He added that he never should have posted the video.
Dobrik announced he would be taking a break from social media, but would not go completely dark as he works to establish checks and balances to ensure people feel comfortable expressing discomfort in his videos.
"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," he said. "I want to use this opportunity to step up and own my mistakes."
If you or someone you know needs support after experiencing sexual violence, contact the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) at 1-800-656-4673 or chat online with a trained counselor. You can also connect with a Crisis Text Line counselor at no charge by texting the word “HOME” to 741741.
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