Watch: James Charles Resurfaces on Twitter with 'Blackmail' Claims

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Thursday May 13, 2021

YouTube celebrity and beauty influencer James Charles has resurfaced on social media, claiming in a video posted to Twitter that he feels he is being "blackmailed" by a former employee who is suing him.

Per a NBC News report, Charles said he felt "cornered" and that he was being "blackmailed" by a lawsuit brought against him by former employee Kelly Rocklein. In the suit, Rocklein alleges Charles overworked her and that "she was never given overtime or double time."

In addition to "alleged wage violations," the outlet notes Rocklein "also ... suffered discrimination and retaliation" and says Charles used racially offensive language in her presence. He has denied all of these allegations.

Charles' May 10 video marked the end of a period of silence for the beauty influencer, who has been hit with accusations in the past of allegedly sending inappropriate messages to underage boys.

Charles said in the video that Rocklein's claims are "wildly untrue," "ridiculous, absurd," and "defamatory." He also denied Rocklein "was wrongfully terminated, overworked, and underpaid."

In his account, Charles said he'd initially hired Rocklein to edit his videos. He said that after promoting her, Rocklein became his producer and "right hand person for a salary of $72,000 a year."

Rocklein's suit alleges that she "suffered a head injury" in September 2018, claiming "Charles was not sympathetic to her recovery needs." What's more, Rocklein alleges she was fired after returning to work and is now seeking backpay and damages.

As pointed out by the Daily Dot, Charles suggested the lawsuit — initially filed two years ago — is now being leveraged as blackmail to make him pay more in a settlement.

In the video, Charles acknowledged he had not commented about the suit earlier, "but she's now speaking about it, which is just perfect timing, considering everything else that's going on."

"Rocklein and her counsel told NBC News the timing of the sexting scandal did factor into their decision," the network's story confirmed, though they said it was because of the public's support for "those who claimed to be victims of Charles' behavior."

As EDGE previously reported, Charles posted a 14-minute video on April 1 in which he addressed accusations of sexting with underage boys, saying the boys had told him that they were older than they truly were. When he learned their true ages, he explained, "I was immediately embarrassed and blocked both people."

"The specific details of the interaction really don't matter, because I fucked up," he added.

"These conversations should have never happened, period," said Charles, who admits it was his "responsibility to verify who I'm talking to."

Charles has been beleaguered by scandals and controversy, with more than 15 accusers having leveled charges of sexual misconduct, including the sexting claims made by several male teenagers.

YouTube demonetized his content last month in the wake of those accusations, stating at the time: "We can confirm that we applied our Creator Responsibility Policy and temporarily removed James Charles from the YouTube partner program."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.