With every passing year it seems influencer controversies never fail to make the top internet headlines, especially from the most unexpected of figures.
Makeup artist James Charles broke the internet once more, but not because of Dramageddon 2.0, but due to allegedly grooming younger men online, accusations that may sound vaguely familiar as these were mentioned during his feud with Tati Westbrook two years prior.
Danielle Bernstein made the rounds when she was accused yet again of copying designs from smaller brands. This time it was We Are Kin, a small, sustainable Black-owned brand, when Bernstein released a dress in the spring looking almost identical to the one she purchased from them last summer.
Though the usual suspects made the cut, snafus like Hilaria Baldwin pretending to be a Spanish person and Chrissy Teigen’s cyberbullying seemed to have shocked the internet. Read on for the biggest influencer controversies of 2021 so far.
Hilaria Baldwin’s Fake Spanish Heritage – December 2020/January 2021
In late December 2020, a Twitter user accused Baldwin of “impersonating a Spanish person,” posting videos of her talking in a fake Spanish accent. One of the videos included a “Today” show cooking segment in which Baldwin happened to forget the word “cucumber.”
Though the news circulated after Christmas last year, the backlash continued well into the new year, especially in the earlier months.
For as long as she’s been in the spotlight, Baldwin, née Thomas, has purported that she’s originally from Mallorca, Spain. Her biography on Creative Artists Agency, a talent organization, even stated she was born there. Before marrying Alec Baldwin, she was known as a yoga instructor, cofounding a chain of New York-based studios called Yoga Vida after she graduated from New York University.
If you haven’t been following the Hilaría Baldwin or Hillary Baldwin you need to get on that. She’s been selling herself as Penelope Cruz when really she’s a Boston born Rachel Dolezal.
— Mostly Unpopular Bravo opinions (@bravo_mostly) December 27, 2020
As the news unfolded online, more users posted more information on Twitter about Baldwin’s lineage, including her parents, both of whom are from America. Turns out Baldwin was born and raised in her mother’s hometown of Boston, but has always claimed she was born in Mallorca. In a past interview, her mother, Kathryn Hayward, who was an associate physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said she and her husband moved to Mallorca in 2011, which meant Baldwin was 27 at the time.
Additionally, Baldwin’s real name isn’t actually Hilaria, but Hillary, according to The Daily Beast, who discovered her old MySpace page. The yearbook from her senior year at Cambridge School of Weston also listed her as “Hillary Hayward-Thomas.”
After receiving endless backlash from fans online, Baldwin finally addressed the situation on her Instagram by posting a seven-minute-long video.
“I was born in Boston and grew up spending time with my family between Massachusetts and Spain. My parents and sibling live in Spain and I chose to live here, in the USA,” Baldwin wrote in the accompanying caption. She then went on to explain that she grew up in a bilingual household, and how she would use the name “Hillary” in the U.S. and “Hilaria” in Spain, further explaining that her family calls her “Hilaria.”
“I am a white girl, let’s be very clear that Europe has a lot of white people in there. My family is white. Ethnically, I am a mix of many, many, many things. Culturally, I grew up with the two cultures,” she continued.
However, many fans were still disappointed in Baldwin impersonating a foreign person for the last decade, accusing her of cultural appropriation as she has publicly identified as Hispanic and even appeared on ¡Hola!, a weekly Spanish-language magazine. In March, The Atlantic released a story called “The Identity Hoaxers,” and included Baldwin in the mix.
James Charles and Grooming Allegations – February 2021
Earlier this year the internet personality and makeup artist faced a slew of serious accusations of grooming boys online, particularly on Snapchat and Instagram.
The first allegation came in February, when a 16-year-old boy shared on TikTok and Twitter that Charles, who is now 22, had groomed and pressured him into exchanging explicit photos on Snapchat. Charles addressed it on Twitter, stating the boy had lied and said he was actually 18. When he actually admitted he was underage, Charles allegedly “un-friended him.”
— James Charles (@jamescharles) February 26, 2021
Afterward, three more males came forward, mostly on TikTok, Twitter and Instagram, and shared they had online sexual encounters with Charles, one of whom was apparently 17 at the time. The 17-year-old posted screenshots of his conversations with Charles, asserting that he continued to be flirty with him despite knowing he was underage. Another man, whose age seems to be unconfirmed, also shared his experience speaking with Charles in an explicit manner.
As this went on, Charles, an avid social media user, became quiet on all his channels. In late March, Variety reported that “Instant Influencer,” a reality television show in which Charles hosted, fired him amid all the allegations.
“We can confirm Season 2 of the YouTube originals series ‘Instant Influencer’ will take a new creative direction, including a new host,” a YouTube spokesperson said in a statement to Variety. “We thank James for a great first season, and look forward to building on the show’s success by expanding the opportunity to showcase a diversity of creators across the YouTube platform in our upcoming season.”
A few days later, a 15-year-old made a TikTok clip sharing screenshots of his conversations with Charles, including photos they had exchanged. When the boy started sharing their messages on his Snapchat Story, he said Charles blocked him and accused him of lying about his age even though the boy said Charles knew he was 15 from the beginning.
On April 1, after receiving endless backlash on social media, Charles uploaded a 14-minute YouTube video called “holding myself accountable,” in which he addressed all the grooming allegations. In the beginning, Charles noted that he was going to be candid. He did not prepare a script or plan what he wanted to say, unlike the video he uploaded two years prior called “No More Lies,” addressing the Tati Westbrook feud. Westbrook and another YouTuber Jeffree Star had both alleged that Charles harassed straight boys, which Charles addressed at the time.
“As I did more research on these topics and self-reflected, I realized that the receipts and the screenshots and the specific details of the interaction really don’t matter because I f—ed up, and I needed to take accountability for my actions and, most importantly, apologize to the people who were affected by them,” Charles said. “These conversations should’ve never happened, point blank, period. There’s no excuse for it.”
Charles then went on to apologize to two different people, both of whom were under the age of 18 at the time, with “one of them being from last year, and one of them being more recent.” Charles claimed both said they were 18, which he believed.
“I trusted the information that was given to me rather than the information I could have and should have gotten myself,” he continued in the since-deleted video. “In both of these situations, doing research into these people’s public social-media profiles would’ve revealed their true ages, and therefore these conversations would have never happened in the first place. But I didn’t do the research, and that is what is so embarrassing.”
Charles then explained that he didn’t take all the precautionary measures he should have at the time because he admitted he was “desperate.”
“It sucks, and it’s ridiculously embarrassing to admit this, but I’m desperate,” he said, explaining that his inexperience in dating and carelessness is why he tends to use Instagram and TikTok “like a dating app.” “That’s just not how dating works literally at all. It’s gross, it’s weird, and it’s desperation.”
A week after Charles uploaded his video, Morphe, the cosmetics company he worked very closely with, said they “have suspended marketing of the Morphe x James Charles collaboration” while the brand continues to monitor the situation closely. On April 18, Morphe ended its partnership with Charles. A day later, YouTube temporarily demonetized Charles’ channel, taking him off its Partner Program, according to a report by Insider at the time.
Charles still laid low on social media channels from the end of March until close to the end of May. He posted on May 23 to commemorate his 22nd birthday. Since then, it seems as if Charles has gone back to his regularly scheduled programming on YouTube and Instagram, posting like normal again.
David Dobrik’s Vlog Squad Sexual Assault Allegations and Toxic Work Environment – February 2021
Another popular YouTuber who was accused of sexual misconduct was David Dobrik, well-known for his humorous videos and boy-next-door charm, and his famous Vlog Squad of an entourage. The Vlog Squad is a rotating group of other content creators who join in on some of the videos Dobrik uploads.
The allegations against Dobrik and his squad came shortly before Charles was accused of grooming. In February, Seth Francois, a former member of the Vlog Squad, accused Dobrik of sexual assault when he claimed he was tricked into kissing Jason Nash, a 48-year-old man who also belongs to the group, back in 2017. Francois was under the impression he was about to kiss another member, Corinna Kopf. “I was touched by someone I did not consent to,” Francois revealed on “The H3 Podcast.”
“They said it directly to me. They said, ‘I’m sorry you were sexually assaulted.’ And I broke down,” Francois recalled to BuzzFeed News. “I called my mother and some of my close friends and I said, ‘I can’t believe that happened to me.'”
Francois revealed on the podcast and to BuzzFeed that he is still “experiencing trauma” from the incident.
A few days after Francois’ interview, Trisha Paytas, a controversial internet personality and ex-Vlog Squad member (and Jason Nash’s ex-girlfriend), revealed her own uncomfortable experience with Dobrik. On her podcast, “Frenemies,” Paytas recounted a time when Dobrik hid while she and Nash had sex, filming her naked without her consent. Though Nash was aware of the prank, Paytas was not. She asked him not to post the video, but Dobrik did, naming it “I SNUCK INTO THEIR HOTEL ROOM SURPRISE.” Up until a few months ago, the video was still live and had over 14 million views. It has since been deleted.
“Because I was dating Jason? Because I was a participant in the Vlogs? That’s my consent? That was so traumatizing at the time,” Paytas said in a YouTube video later.
In March, Dobrik launched Dispo, a camera-sharing application. The reviews section for Dispo on the Application Store then filled up with comments demanding that Dobrik take accountability for his past actions and apologize to those speaking out against him and the Vlog Squad.
A few days later, Paytas’ profile was published in New York magazine, in which she revealed more details about how she felt about her relationship with Dobrik and Nash. “I have more PTSD from David and Jason than I do hooking on Santa Monica Boulevard,” she told the outlet, referring to her time as an escort when she was younger.
Paytas also blamed Dobrik for ending her relationship with Nash, whom she dated for two years from 2017 to 2019. When Dobrik thought Paytas was no longer needed for the Vlog Squad, he allegedly asked Nash to break up with her. “Jason was like, ‘I gotta break up with you because of David,’” Paytas said. “That’s when I spiraled.”
On March 16, Business Insider published an article revealing that a young woman who featured in Dobrik’s group sex vlog from 2018 was actually raped. Titled “A woman featured on YouTube star David Dobrik’s channel says she was raped by a Vlog Squad member in 2018 the night they filmed a video about group sex,” in the article the young woman claimed she was intoxicated and unable to give consent when then-Vlog Squad member Dom Zeglaitis raped her during filming. The story also featured quotes from Paytas, who revealed that Dobrik had asked Nash to purchase alcohol for the women since they were under 21 at the time.
The same day the story was published, Dobrik finally uploaded a short YouTube video on his second channel dedicated to his podcast, which has significantly less views than his main one, titled “Let’s talk.” In the video, which was only two and a half minutes long, Dobrik said that “consent is something that’s super, super important to me,” and went on to say that he did not agree with some of the videos he made in the past. He also apologized to Francois for the incident. “I just want to make videos where everybody in it, whether you are participating or watching, is enjoying having a good time,” Dobrik said. “I missed the mark with that one. And I’m really sorry, I truly, truly am.”
Dobrik then went on to mention Zeglaitis, who he no longer films with, saying he “chose to distance [himself], because [he doesn’t agree] with some of the actions and I don’t stand for any kind of misconduct.”
“I’ve been really disappointed by some of my friends, and for that reason, I have separated from a lot of them,” he continued in the clip. “I think with any video I make, my main purpose is to make people happy and inspire people and I never want anything to get in the way of that, and I’m sorry if I let you down. Things like that won’t happen again and I have learnt from my mistakes and I also believe that actions speak a lot louder than words. You can take my word for it that I am going to change, but I will also show you and I will prove to you that the mistakes I made before won’t be happening again.”
Dobrik did not address the allegations by Paytas or Nik Keswani, a former Vlog Squad member who told “The H3 Podcast” in February his time in the Vlog Squad undermined his mental health, saying he felt like a “punching bag” with all the jokes Dobrik and the others made about him, and made him feel “worthless.” The video turned off likes as well as comments.
In the days that followed Business Insider’s article, Dobrik lost many fans and major partnership deals, including SeatGeek, Dollar Shave Club and EA Sports, which gifted him a Lamborghini in 2019. Other brands that chose to distance themselves from or no longer intend to work with Dobrik were HelloFresh, DoorDash, General Mills, HBO Max, Facebook, and Audible, according to Insider.
On March 22, Dobrik said he was stepping down from the board of Dispo. Additionally, venture capital firms associated with Dispo stated they would distance themselves from Dobrik and Dispo, including the firm led by Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian, called Seven Seven Six. “The recent allegations against David Dobrik are extremely troubling and are directly at odds with Seven Seven Six’s core values,” read the statement, which was posted on its official Twitter account. “We have been working closely with Dispo over the last week and are in full support of their decision to part ways with David.”
Chipotle, Frank’s Red Hot, Bumble and SeatGeek all officially severed ties with Dobrik that same day.
On March 23, Dobrik uploaded a second apology video titled “03/22/21” on his main channel, keeping the comments on.
“I’ve put myself in a lot of situations where I’ve needed to apologize for my past actions, and I’ve never done this correctly and I’ve never done this respectfully, and my last video is a testament to that,” he said. “I want to start this video off and say I fully believe the woman who came out against Dom and say she was sexually assaulted and raped by him. As was reported, the next day, I got consent to post the video. Even though I got the consent to post that video, I should have never posted it.”
Dobrik then explained that the woman in question appeared to have given her consent at the time “because she felt like she had to, not because she wanted to, and that’s f—ed up, and I’m sorry.” She then apparently reached out a few months later and asked him to take it down, which he did.
“I want to apologize to her and her friends for ever putting them in an environment that I enabled that made them feel like their safety and values were compromised,” he continued. “I’m so sorry. I was completely disconnected from the fact that when people were invited to film videos with us, especially videos that relied on shock for views or whatever, it was that I was creating an unfair power dynamic. I did not know this before. It was completely wrong and I wish I was more responsible at the time.”
Dobrik then continued to apologize to the girls involved and directly addressed the allegations against Zeglaitis, whom he stopped working with in 2019. “I’m sorry that I took Dom’s word for what happened in those certain situations and I didn’t believe you,” he said, as he appears to tear up in parts of the video. “And not only did I not believe you, but I made a joke of what kind of a person Dom was because I couldn’t wrap my head around a childhood friend of mine doing this to people and actually hurting people.”
On March 25, YouTube reportedly temporarily demonetized Dobrik and Zeglaitis on its platform, including all three of Dobrik’s channels and Zeglaitis’ personal one.
For the months that followed, Dobrik laid low online, especially on YouTube where he did not upload any videos. On June 15, Dobrik posted a video called “SURPRISING MY FRIENDS!!”, his first vlog since his apology video in March. Since then, Dobrik has continued to post on his page regularly as if nothing has happened.
Danielle Bernstein and We Are Kin – March 2021
Earlier this year, Danielle Bernstein, known online as We Wore What, was involved in another fashion controversy. This time, she was accused of copying a dress design from We Are Kin, a sustainable, Black-owned shop based in London.
Before the spring drop for her namesake label in April, Bernstein uploaded an image of one of the dresses in the collection on Instagram, which was a maxi dress with strappy detailing in the back.
Shortly after, Ngoni Chikwenengere, We Are Kin’s founder, posted in a now-deleted Instagram that she is “the latest victim of @weworewhat and Danielle Bernstein’s crusade against small designers.”
Chikwenengere explained back in June 2020, during the push to support Black-owned businesses amid the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, Bernstein reached out to her saying she loved her “Silk Strappy Maxi dress” and asking if she’d be willing to send one. Though Chikwenengere was hesitant, she knew Bernstein had a large following (over 2 million) and that publicity from her would help her business.
Given Bernstein’s notorious history for copying smaller brands, Chikwenengere’s friends cautioned her about facing a similar fate, but she decided to go ahead and gift Bernstein the dress anyway since she “[likes] to think the best of female founders.”
When she came across Bernstein’s post, she noticed how identical the dresses were. She was “heartbroken” because she “poured [her] heart and soul into” the original dress she designed.
“I know this is her MO, but I refuse to be cowed into silence. This is my design, she has posted it all over her social channels and it is on sale to her millions of followers,” Chikwenengere wrote. “I am truly devastated. I have spent years building up my independent brand and it feels futile now.”
After users on Instagram started commenting on all of Bernstein’s social media accounts accusing her of copying yet again, she posted a statement on her stories.
“I’m sick and tired of being accused of stealing designs or content that I ABSOLUTELY DID NOT. I am sick of screenshots of conversations without context or dates and part of something that looks similar,” Bernstein wrote. “There will always be something that someone can say looks similar. These ridiculous claims for 15 minutes of fame are unfounded and unfair.
“My team and our freelance designer who came on to create these collections work extremely hard and I will not let our work be put down,” she concluded.
Though some fans have defended that the dress style is popular, others have argued that receipts online and the timeline of events line up to Bernstein’s known history to take a great deal of inspiration from smaller or POC-owned brands.
Chrissy Teigen’s Cyberbullying Past – May 2021
Known for her outspoken, sometimes brash, comments on social media, particularly Twitter, Teigen was accused of cyberbullying by multiple people in May.
Courtney Stodden, best known for marrying then 51-year-old actor Doug Hutchison as a 16-year-old in 2011, told The Daily Beast that Teigen directly messaged them with disparaging comments multiple times on Twitter, telling Stodden to kill themself.
“She wouldn’t just publicly tweet about wanting me to take ‘a dirt nap’ but would privately DM me and tell me to kill myself,” Stodden, who goes by them/they pronouns, told the outlet. “Things like, ‘I can’t wait for you to die.’”
Then online sleuths decided to scroll through Teigen’s long Twitter history and found that she in fact did send unkind messages to Stodden dating back to 2011 and 2012.
Since the news of Teigen’s past bullying circulated on the internet, the cookbook author allegedly reached out to Stodden to apologize. However, they have doubts on how sincere Teigen really was in expressing her regret for her past behavior. They uploaded a screenshot on Instagram, showing that Teigen actually still has them blocked on Twitter.
“I accept her apology and forgive her. But the truth remains the same, I have never heard from her or her camp in private. In fact, she blocked me on Twitter,” they wrote in the accompanying caption. “All of me wants to believe this is a sincere apology, but it feels like a public attempt to save her partnerships with Target and other brands who are realizing her ‘wokeness’ is a broken record.”
As brands like Target and Macy’s started to distance themselves from Teigen, she finally apologized publicly in a Twitter thread to Stodden.
“Not a lot of people are lucky enough to be held accountable for all their past bulls–t in front of the entire world. I’m mortified and sad at who I used to be,” Teigen wrote. “I was an insecure, attention seeking troll. I am ashamed and completely embarrassed at my behavior but that is nothing compared to how I made Courtney feel. I have worked so hard to give you guys joy and be beloved and the feeling of letting you down is nearly unbearable, truly. These were not my only mistakes and surely won’t be my last as hard as I try but god I will try!!”
“I have tried to connect with Courtney privately but since I publicly fueled all this, I want to also publicly apologize. I’m so sorry, Courtney,” she continued. “I hope you can heal now knowing how deeply sorry I am. And I am so sorry I let you guys down. I will forever work on being better than I was 10 years ago, 1 year ago, 6 months ago.”
Not a lot of people are lucky enough to be held accountable for all their past bullshit in front of the entire world. I’m mortified and sad at who I used to be. I was an insecure, attention seeking troll. I am ashamed and completely embarrassed at my behavior but that…
— chrissy teigen (@chrissyteigen) May 12, 2021
Shortly thereafter, it was revealed others had unpleasant experiences with Teigen online, including Lindsay Lohan. Though Lohan did not publicly divulge any details, a since-deleted tweet from 2011 by Teigen reportedly poked fun at the actress.
“Lindsay adds a few more slits to her wrists when she sees emma stone,” the tweet allegedly said, implying that Lohan cuts herself.
Teigen then decided to pen a lengthier apology essay on Medium in June. “As you know, a bunch of my old awful (awful, awful) tweets resurfaced. I’m truly ashamed of them,” she wrote. “As I look at them and understand the hurt they caused, I have to stop and wonder: How could I have done that?”
“There is simply no excuse for my past horrible tweets. My targets didn’t deserve them. No one does,” she continued. “Many of them needed empathy, kindness, understanding, and support, not my meanness masquerading as a kind of casual, edgy humor. I was a troll, full stop. And I am so sorry.”
However, a day after the essay was published, “Teen Mom” star Farrah Abraham wrote her own Medium post reacting to Teigen’s apology, claiming she did not yet receive an apology from Teigen despite her promise to make amends to those she’s wronged in the past. Apparently, Teigen also attacked Abraham online in 2013.
“As you’re asking yourself ‘Did Chrissy ever apologize to Farrah,’ hypocritically as such at this time no she has not,” Abraham wrote. “As a reminder Chrissy ended her lighthearted post, so similarly as her past remarks with taking care of her family and herself. So I understand the time it will take to really be beyond her past behavior.”
Abraham also compared Teigen’s actions toward her like those from a “‘Mean Girls’ movie spin-off.”
Another who stepped forward and claimed they were bullied by Teigen was Michael Costello, a fashion designer best known for being a contestant on “Project Runway.” Costello called out Teigen in a since-deleted Instagram post for not apologizing to him.
Costello claimed that Teigen allegedly tried to ruin his career in the past and that her abuse has still left him “traumatized” and “depressed.”
Here are the purported DMs Michael posted. He says he took them in 2014 but IG messages have only looked like this (purple/blue ombré) starting in 2020. pic.twitter.com/xd4FvEfpU1
— Kat Tenbarge (@kattenbarge) June 18, 2021
“I didn’t want to do this, but I can not be happy until I speak my mind. I need to heal and in order for me to do that I must reveal what I’ve been going through,” he wrote on Instagram. “I wanted to kill myself and I still am traumatized, depressed, and have thoughts of suicide.”
According to Costello, Teigen started harassing him in 2014, when she left a comment on his Instagram page accusing him of racism over a “Photoshopped comment floating around the internet … proven to be false.”
“When I reached out to Chrissy Teigen to communicate that I was the victim of a vindictive cyber slander, and that everything she thought I was is not who I am, she told me that my career was over and that all my doors will be shut from there on,” Costello continued. “And wow, did she live up to her words.”
The designer then explained that friends and colleagues in the industry told him that Teigen and stylist Monica Rose had supposedly “gone out of their way to threaten people and brands that, if they were in any shape or form associated with me, they would not work with any of them.”
In his post, Costello uploaded screenshots of his conversations with Teigen online, in which she apparently wrote, “You will get what’s coming to you. Racist people like you deserve to suffer and die. You might as well be dead. Your career is over, just watch.”
The story then took many turns as other people entered the conversation against Costello, including Leona Lewis, in which they detailed rather unpleasant experiences with the designer.
A few days later, Teigen and her team released a lengthy statement claiming that Costello’s screenshots of her alleged bullying appear to be “fake” and that Teigen and Costello have actually maintained a cordial relationship. Teigen also wrote on Twitter stating her confusion and that the direct messages and emails “don’t exist.” Teigen also addressed the comment she left about Costello being racist in 2014, saying she deleted it after she discovered that his supposed racist remarks were not real.
Teigen even uploaded screenshots of her messages with Costello on Instagram, showing friendly interactions between the two, with messages dating from 2017 to 2020.
Michael Costello also posted videos where he was VERY confused about Leona Lewis’ stylist reaching out and being kind. Imagine my surprise when my past three years have been this: pic.twitter.com/cxiMAlLUvm
— chrissy teigen (@chrissyteigen) June 18, 2021
“No idea what the f— michael costello is doing. He just released a statement where he didn’t at ALL acknowledge how fake the dm’s were, & now claims to have emails that don’t exist,” she wrote in the caption accompanying her full statement.
Afterward, Teigen and her team threatened legal action against Costello for sharing what she and her husband John Legend called “fabricated” messages and screenshots.
Kris Wu’s Sexual Assault Allegations – July 2021
Kris Wu, a Chinese-Canadian singer and actor, was dropped by multiple brands when claims of sexual misconduct and predatory behavior were confirmed to be true.
Wu was the face of brands including Louis Vuitton, Bulgari and Porsche, all of which distanced themselves and eventually dropped him as an ambassador when the news broke. He was also dropped by Lancôme, L’Oréal, Kans as well as Master Kong Iced Tea, Tuborg Brewery, household cleaning products maker Liby, kitchen appliances manufacturer Vatti, Tencent Video and Tencent’s popular video game King of Glory.
Wu, a former member of the South Korean boy group Exo, was first accused of infidelity and preying on underaged girls on July 8 by Du Meizhu, a 19-year-old college student.
Du shared screenshots of alleged conversations between Wu and underaged girls on Weibo, a popular Chinese microblogging site, and claimed that she has struggled with mental health, and even had suicidal thoughts due to his unfaithfulness and cyberbullying from his fans.
Du claimed that Wu kept a special WeChat account to contact underage girls under the guise of recruiting artists or casting female leads for his music videos, eventually luring the girls into playing drinking games. Du said she was just one of his many conquests.
Wu and his team categorically denied the accusations and said they had filed a defamation lawsuit against Du the same day.
Shortly after, however, Du revealed that she didn’t receive a court summons. Instead, she shared that Wu’s team reached out to her and proposed to settle the accusations with money. She posted a chat history of her negotiating the details of the settlement plan with Wu’s representative and a copy of the contract that his team offered her to sign, which she claimed to be a trap.
She later shared a video of her receiving two bank transfers totaling 500,000 renminbi from Wu Stacy Yu and Wu Yi Fan, which appeared to be Kris Wu’s mother’s name and his name in Chinese pinyin spelling.
In an interview with local press published last month, Du said she had returned Wu the hush money in installments and was ready to face legal action. She also claimed that more than 30 women who shared similar experiences with Wu had reached out to her, two of whom are minors.
Wu then took to Weibo to address the issue more in depth, saying:
“I didn’t respond earlier because I did not want to disrupt the legal process but I didn’t imagine that my silence would accelerate this rumormonger, I cannot stand it any longer. I have only met this woman once on Dec. 5, 2020 while with a group of friends. I didn’t urge anyone to drink, did not take a phone number, moreover did not do any of the details she described. That day there were many people present that can be witness. I am very sorry it’s disturbed everyone. I declare I have never done any “selecting of concubines”! No luring for sex! No drugging to rape! No underage! If there was this behavior, everyone rest assured I would go to jail willingly. I fully understand the legal weight of my words above.”
According to a statement from police in Beijing released last month, Wu’s agent did ask Du to go to the home of Wu on Dec. 5 on the pretext of selecting her to appear in a music video. More than 10 people played games and drank at his home that evening. Wu and Du had sex that night, and Wu transferred 32,000 yuan, or $4,950, to Du for online shopping on Dec. 8, according to the police statement. The two stayed in touch on WeChat until April 2021.
After being detained for two weeks by police in Beijing on suspicion of rape, Wu was formally arrested in mid-August, according to a statement released by the the prosecutor’s office of the Beijing district of Chaoyang.
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