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David Dobrik was complicit in assault: Why he needs to be held accountable

YouTuber David Dobrik is facing backlash after a fan revealed that he was present while she was sexually assaulted by one of his friends. While Dobrik did not directly participate in the assault, his failure to intervene ultimately makes him complicit. – Photo by David Dobrik / Youtube

Content warning: This article contains mentions of or references to sexism, sexual harassment and sexual assault.

If you’ve been on YouTube in the past few years, the name David Dobrik might sound familiar. Even if you don’t frequent the high-energy prank corner of YouTube, Dobrik has managed to distinguish himself from similar creators.

Now, most people don’t care about YouTube drama, and they shouldn’t when the issues are more ridiculous than relatable. But, Dobrik's story is more than just YouTube drama. Rather, it's a stark reminder that there’s actually a lot of darkness that goes on behind the cameras. And the veneer put on by the happy-go-lucky “Vlog Squad” (other content creators associated with Dobrik) helped to hide these issues for a long time.

So, what happened? A woman under the pseudonym “Hannah" recently came forward with allegations that one of the members of the Vlog Squad, named Dominykas Zeglaitis (also known as "Durte Dom") forced her to engage in sexual activity with him, even though she was too intoxicated to consent.

Hannah said that she and her friends were invited by Zeglaitis to meet him and Dobrik, according to Business Insider. Zeglaitis chose Hannah and her friends to appear in a Vlog Squad production, starring Zeglaitis as a sex addict, and at the apartment where the video was to be filmed, Hannah (who was 20 at the time) was given alcohol.

Dobrik filmed everything that night, including a clearly-intoxicated Hannah entering Zeglaitis’s bedroom, and posted the edited video with the title “SHE SHOULDN’T HAVE PLAYED WITH FIRE!!” to YouTube, where it would amass 5 million views.

Hannah reached out and asked for the video to be deleted. Although Dobrik complied, the damage had been done. Not only did Dobrik do absolutely nothing to protect her, but he also willingly put her in harm’s way to film it all for views.

Dobrik was able to brand himself as the approachable nice guy, and this scandal “represents the risks of a specific type of white masculinity that’s often enabled and goes unchecked until it’s too late," according to The Daily Beast.

Many people are asking why Dobrik should be held accountable if Zeglaitis is to blame.

This reminded me of a clip I'd seen of Scottish comedian Daniel Sloss after the news of Sarah Everard’s death galvanized the public.

Sloss warns the crowd to not make the same mistake that he did. Previously, like many men, he believed that not being part of the problem was being part of the solution, but that’s not how this works. Eventually, he came to the realization that “when (1) in (10) men are sh*t and the other (9) do nothing, they might as well not f*cking be there.”

“There are monsters (among) us, and they look like us," Sloss said. "If I’m 100 percent honest with myself, were there signs in my friend’s behavior over the years (toward) women that I ignored? The answer is yes. And then he raped my friend. And that’s on me until the day I die."

So while Dobrik didn't directly commit the crime, he still bears responsibility. He not only gave Zeglaitis a platform, but he also ignored other women who came out against his friend, and didn't try to stop his friend from hurting Hannah. Dobrik fundamentally did nothing to stop this from happening.

In Dobrik’s apology video, he shares how difficult it was to come to terms with how a childhood friend, Zeglaitis, could cause so much pain and suffering.

But ultimately, that's on Dobrik, and all other influencers with a platform for that matter, who allow these crimes to happen behind cameras.

As viewers, it's our job to hold people accountable for the wrong they do, support those who need our help and remain educated about the issues that others have to suffer through.

If this situation has shown us anything, it's that there are monsters hiding among us. But as audience members with the power to make or break their careers, we must take steps to protect others from the harm they can cause for "clout."

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