Sarah on Her Relationship With YouTuber Onision: 'Why Did You Think This Was OK?'

YouTuber James "Onision" Jackson (also known as Greg Jackson or Greg Avaroe) is a self-proclaimed "professional troll" with more than five million subscribers across his three YouTube channels. He also has a complicated past.

onision sarah youtube story investigation
Sarah (right) shares her story about James "Onision" Jackson (left) YouTube

He says he owed over $150,000 to the IRS in 2017 (the IRS declined to comment), was ordered to pay $90,000 by Pierce County in Washington for disturbing the wetlands in his backyard (which he claims to have paid and is currently replanting) and has written three poorly received books. Multiple women including Billie Dawn Webb and Canadian singer Shiloh have shared stories of their personal relationships with Jackson on Twitter and in YouTube interviews with Vincent Nicotra and Chris Hansen, the former host of MSNBC's To Catch a Predator.

Jackson's current partner is Kai, a Jackson fan who identified as a woman named Lainey until March of 2017. Kai married the YouTuber in 2011, when he was 17 and Jackson was 26. The pair have two children together. Kai did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Newsweek reached out to "Sarah" to share her story, who once was a fan of Kai who visited and lived with the YouTuber couple multiple times over three years. She says she did not have sex with Jackson until she was age 18--and Jackson says the same--but she claims that Jackson and Kai "groomed" her while she was still a minor. Newsweek confirmed Sarah's identity but are withholding her last name at her request.

Newsweek sought comment from Jackson, who spoke over the phone and then shared this statement for follow-up questions over email.

"The grooming stuff is absolute nonsense. You don't have to believe me. You just have to listen to the original statements made from the same person who now completely changed her story, despite repeatedly saying the opposite, as an adult, who was at the time, living across the country in Michigan (referring to the video posted by Sarah in January defending Jackson)."

This is Newsweek's Q&A with Sarah, edited for space and clarity.

When did you first learn about Onision?

"I was 11 or 12. One of his videos popped up on my recommended feed. He talked about stuff I related to like school issues, what do you do when people are mean to you or when you are depressed."

When was your first contact with Jackson or Kai?

"I sent him an email about not being able to log into the forums when I was 13, but we didn't have a private conversation. He just said 'try this' and I went 'cool.' The first time I had contact with Kai was when I had just turned 14. Three days prior through Twitter direct message, he asked me how old I was."

What was the conversation like or about?

"I said 'you're going to turn 20 soon' and Kai was like 'oh, I'm having a quarter life crisis.' We started talking on Kik Messenger a lot after that."

When did the conversations start to become more personal?

"We ended up in a group chat together with Regina [a member of the Onision forums] and Kai would talk about his sex life with Greg and I was 14 at the time. We would send ludes [sexually suggestive photos] to each other. Because at the time Kai was identifying as a straight woman, he wasn't even out as bisexual, so I thought that this was innocent."

How did Regina introduce you to this situation?

"[Regina and I] were in this Kik group chat together for fans. There was this creepy guy in there, and I texted Regina afterwards on Kik about him so I blocked him. And we started talking and became friends. Kai was already friends with Regina, so Kai asked Regina if I was truly trustworthy or not."

What do you mean by 'trustworthy'?

"Like I wouldn't go to the internet and tell people like a bunch of like private stuff because I guess he had friends do that in the past."

What happened with the group messages?

"We called ourselves the Three Musketeers. Eventually Kai and I started to get really close, even before Regina just dropped off to deal with her own life stuff. We would FaceTime all the time and stay up late all the time. I remember the night before my sophomore year of high school, we stayed up till 2 a.m. talking. I just wanted to do whatever he wanted because I was a huge fan of him and now he is my friend, holy s***, this is so cool."

And how old was Kai?

"We first started talking a couple of months before Kai's 20th birthday, so when we first became friends I was 14. We started romantically talking when I was 15 and Kai was 21."

What were you two talking about?

"The first time they broke up with Billie, Kai was really devastated and Greg didn't want to talk about it. He was like 'move on or divorce me. I don't want to talk about this. I don't care if your feelings are hurt.' So Kai would talk to me because I would let him talk to me however long he wanted, about whatever he wanted all day. And I would just try to sit there and try to help him. And we became super close, and Kai knew that I was into women and so I was like 'I kind of like you.' I didn't say it outright, I made a tweet and Kai went 'who is this tweet about' and I went 'it's about you.' And she went 'I feel the same.'"

"We would start romantically talking, playing 20 questions, asking are you submissive, dominant or a switch. Looking back at it now, I don't know why because I was 15 and had no clue about any of that."

Is Jackson involved at this point?

"He is, the first time he ever saw me, Kai showed him a picture of me when I was 14 and he went 'oh she's cute.' Then when I was 15 and we were talking, Kai said that Greg had told him, though Lainey was a her at the time, why don't we just wait for Sarah, we can just wait for Sarah to turn 18. That is burned into my freaking brain. I was 15 and Greg was 30."

How do you deal with this with hindsight you have now?

"It's weird. I just turned 19 in August and I grew up with all of my teen years dealing with this. Becoming an adult, I've realized that this, all of the other adults telling me this was a bad situation, now I understand why because normally adults don't do this. I don't want to be friends with 14-year-olds or romantically talk to a 15-year-old.

Between 14 and 16, what adults were telling you this wasn't the best idea?

"Online, I would see them saying 'you're endangering yourself.' I was thinking that they don't know, they are just silly people online. I'm smart, I can handle it. No."

When you turn 16, what happens?

"Kai had a baby shower and calls me one day crying, asking if I would come to (his) baby shower in a few months and I said of course. The baby shower was in September, a month after my 16th birthday, so I came up and met them for the first time from the 15th to 21st. Greg was super nice to me, patting my hair and saying 'you're so mature for your age, I feel like I'm hanging with a 20-year-old.' Now I'm like, red flag. Kai would put his legs on me, it was just a weird vibe. it wasn't normal. I was so excited because I had my favorite celebrity couple move me into their house, and I was like holy shit this is so cool."

So what happens after the first trip?

"I went back home for a month and they invited me to come live out in their house in Washington. I was having problems at home, and it was all really sudden. Kai just said 'I'm going to talk to Greg about you living out here.' I lived there for four months after the first trip."

When was your power of attorney signed over?

"In early November. My mom went and signed over my medical power of attorney so that if an emergency happened they would have rights, Greg joked that they would have the rights to pull the plug. It was for them to take care of me, basically."

'Why did your mother sign it over?

"I don't know. She just did. Me and [Kai] had been friends for so long and my mom didn't really know about any of the sexual or romantic stuff that's been going on. She was just like, this YouTube couple wants you to move out there, that's cool, go for it.

Have you ever talked about it with her since?

"No."

Now you're at the house, what is happening over those four months?

"There was relationship drama with Billie, so it was mostly just me trying to take care of Kai as her friend. My mom was just giving me money each month to live off of, and I was just going with them."

Did anything sexual happen at the time?

"No. Greg did make a comment about my ass while nobody else was in the room. I would lay in bed with them sometimes. It was kind of creepy, Greg would give me little touches here and there. I would sit in the bathroom with Kai while he was bathing or talk to him while I was in the shower."

Why were you in the bathroom?

"Kai said it was to help him with the kids because he would bathe with the kids and then I would get them out. I would just sit there and talk with him while he was in the bath. He just wanted someone to be with him. We never did anything sexual, but Kai was naked in front of me all the time."

At the time are you going to school?

"I was doing online classes."

What else is happening?

"Greg would say mean things to me, he would call me stupid, a c**t, call me a dyke... I hated (dyke) because I would get called it a lot in high school. I find it really insulting and bigoted, so I was like I don't like that, so he took that and ran with it. He would say that I'm stupid. He made me feel really dumb and ugly."

Did he ever try to justify the reasons behind that?

"He later on said it was to distance himself from me. I could definitely see that. One time at a Christmas party, he fed me a piece of cheese and put it in my mouth. He seemed to realize what he had done and said 'I don't want to be doing this with you.' He was mean to me because he knew he wouldn't be able to control himself around me if we were to have a normal relationship of somebody who's supposed to be like a foster father to you,"

(Jackson told Newsweek that the reason he acted that way was to "distance himself" from Sarah, who at the time had no sexual contact with him. "I was that way because I didn't want them to have any interest in me," Jackson told Newsweek. "And they admitted that they didn't and that they hated me. So I was like mission accomplished.")

So when do you leave?

"In February of 2017 because my friend Lane had told the internet that there's some sneaky shit going on. They told me that I had to leave because this is getting to be too much to handle publicly."

How were you feeling at the time?

"I felt so horrible, I felt like everything was my fault. It was just because I had this crush on (Kai), and it was like I was ruining everything and I just felt so bad."

"In hindsight I was a 16 year-old girl who was very confused and just wanted people to care about and love me. Kai, Jackson and people online were shifting the blame all on me when there literally was no blame on me whatsoever. I never started anything. I never initiated anything ever."

What happened next?

"I go home, Kai and I are still friends and Greg isn't mad. They say that we need to protect this because it's starting to look really bad. I would talk to Kai multiple hours a day on FaceTime. We were super close. I really did not like [Greg]. He was an a**hole. He was such an idol to me, and I'm like why is this guy so f***ng mean?"

Why do you keep talking to them?

"I kept it going because I loved Kai a lot. We were such good friends, I still have love for Kai because we we were so close for so long. At the end of the day he did what he did, and they will both burn for it."

When do you go back?

"I returned for a week long trip in April 2017, but went back to live with them in August 2017, around my 17th birthday. I was there to be a nanny, cleaner and Kai's friend. I was also an emotional punching bag for [Jackson] because he was going to say whatever he wanted to say. What was I going to say? I'm 16-17, living in this man's house, and he takes care of me. I felt like I couldn't say anything and just had to take it. He was mean to me, and it was that much easier to get my guard down so when he finally did say let's be in a relationship, I'd be confused. I have no doubt that he knew it was going to happen the whole time. He had battered down my self esteem so much."

"The dude I looked up to when i was younger is finally being nice to me. Like we're finally all like friends like, this is awesome. And he took advantage of the fact that I liked that he was finally being nice to me. I was 17 when he proposed the idea of being in a relationship."

When did you leave?

"I went to Walmart with Greg and jokingly mentioned that comment about my ass when I was 16 that had freaked me out. He kicked me out immediately. He was yelling at me. He was so upset. He was like, 'you're going to ruin my career, this is exactly what Kevin Spacey went through.' All I was thinking was did I do something wrong?"

When did you visit again?

"We didn't talk for the next few months, but they were going to fly me out on August 4th, a day before my 18th birthday. Then Greg pushed it up a month, so I came to their house on July 4, 2018. Greg was much nicer, saying you can shower with Kai because you are about to be 18. I started to feel like something was happening. I was like there's no way, he's not going to do that. And then he did."

What happened?

"[Jackson] said there's a possibility for us to be in a three-way relationship, and I just started crying because I was so confused and I knew this was going to happen. I was just overwhelmed with emotion. I was afraid. I was angry because how could you say all these things for all these years and then switch? Like, did you know what was there? I was just very confused. And I didn't press the issue at all. I just left it alone. Greg really was the one who was pushing it to go forward."

What was the atmosphere like after being in the three-way relationship?

"I'm just going to do what they say and follow their lead because I got caught up in their flow. The dynamic switched. I would ask Greg what he wanted to watch tonight and he would say to watch you and Kai make out. He would give me massages where he was on me and presses his whatever into my butt. I would sleep in their bed sometimes."

So you leave. When do you come back?

"In December of 2018 for Christmas since I had no plans. Kai FaceTimes me in early December, and Greg took the phone from her and said 'I miss you.' And I was like what? They said they will fly you out for Christmas. I went there, and it was supposed to be platonic. But then Kai wanted me to sleep in their bed. Greg was like Kai wants to give this another try."

"I was afraid of things going bad again, I told him I felt afraid, but he didn't care, though. He knew what he wanted, and he was going to get it. I visited them again in January 2019 when I was 18 and that's when sexual relations began."

Is there anything you're willing to share about when the sexual relationship began?

"I didn't expect anything to happen. I really didn't think anything was going to happen. Greg orchestrated it all. He was in control of the situation. Kai and I just did whatever we were told. The morning after he made me sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement that he printed out of his printer. So I had to lie to my family, friends and bosses. I was a teenager and didn't know anything, I didn't know if this was real. He told me it was legal."

How long was this trip for?

"Five days, because I had to work. They tried to get me to stay, We stopped at the mall and they said you don't have to get on the plane, we can just go home and have fun, wink wink."

What happened when you came back?

"Greg was texting me and called me saying that Kai was crying and I needed to make this video to send them. So I did."

How do you feel about that video in hindsight?

"I have bloopers up on my Twitter that I uploaded later of me crying. I did not want to make that video. I never said no to them, so I tried to keep the video as vague as possible because I knew what I was going to say in that video to not be true. I don't like lying, but I lied for them a lot. You can see how uncomfortable I am because I knew he was going to post it. It had me very stressed."

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When was your final trip?

"From mid-to-late July 2019, while Kai was in New Mexico. Greg cheated on Kai with me. Greg and I dated for like two weeks. He would just start s**t with us like for no reason. He said I had blackmailed them into having sex with me, but that it wasn't rape, because I had made a joke about the NDA. I just packed up all my s**t and left with no car or money. I was going to sleep on the street, and Kai called me saying you can't do that. When I got back, Greg treated me like I was 16 again and he was so mean. He would ignore me, saying I'm so manipulative. He drove me to the airport, and that's the last time I saw him."

Why did you speak out about this?

"I started speaking out and saying all this stuff actually happened. I was a secret to everyone - friends and family, nobody knew about me - and they wanted to keep it that way forever. This screwed with my health. Before I came back in June, my eyes became puffy because of the stress. They think it's an autoimmune disorder triggered by stress. They gave me that, and I get to have that for the rest of my life."

"I had this realization that it was not an OK thing to have happened, and I didn't want anybody else to have to go through it. There's a huge gap there and power dynamic."

What questions would you ask Jackson?

"Why did you think any of this was OK? Why did you think it was appropriate to be with someone who was like a foster daughter to you? And why are you a f---- liar?"