SEXUAL ASSAULT

The fall of Mexican YouTuber Yoseline Hoffman: in pre-trial detention for child pornography

The social media influencer, known as ‘YosStop,’ has admitted to having received, played and stored a video of a 16-year-old being sexually assaulted by four men

Mexican YouTuber Yoseline Hoffman, known as “YosStop,” in a photo shared on social media.
Mexican YouTuber Yoseline Hoffman, known as “YosStop,” in a photo shared on social media.REDES SOCIALES

Hours after she posted her last video on her Twitter account on Tuesday, the Mexican YouTuber Yoseline Hoffman, known as “YosStop,” was arrested at her house by officers in Mexico City on charges of child pornography. The detention came three months after Ainara Suárez reported Hoffman for reproducing, storing and publicizing a video that showed a gang rape she had suffered in May 2018. The detainee, aged 30, admitted in one of her YouTube videos that she had seen the recording of the Suárez’s sexual assault, commenting that the incident had been her fault and calling her a “slut.” The Hoffman case has caused waves within the world of Mexico’s social media influencers and prompted debate over the limits of freedom of expression.

Four in every 10 women in Mexico have suffered some kind of sexual violence

On March 3, Suárez filed a complaint against four men for a sexual assault. She was 16 at the time of the attack. In the same complaint, she accused the men of child pornography, as well as a friend to whom a video of the assault was sent and Hoffman. Of the six people named in her accusations, only Hoffman has been arrested so far. The case was escalated to a national level after the YouTuber became involved – she counts on 5.6 million subscribers on her channel and videos that have racked up nearly 10 million views.

Suárez’s nightmare dates back to May 25, 2018. In an interview granted to EL PAÍS shortly after she filed the complaint, the youngster explained the hell she had been through over the preceding three years. That night Suárez attended a party, at which four men inserted a bottle of champagne into her vagina. They recorded their actions and sent the video to their friends and posted it on social media. The case became even more controversial when YosStop discussed the recording and insulted the victim during a video released to her millions of followers. The scene of a minor, completely nude, and being assaulted by a number of young men quickly circulated via all kinds of pornography websites.

From that moment on, a harassment campaign began against the victim. Speaking to friends and via social media, the young men involved in the video claimed that Suárez had agreed to participate in the sex act in exchange for cigarettes. Suárez had to deal with death threats, insults and taunts, which she has included in her complaint. At the time of these events, she was still an adolescent and had not even told her family what was going on. She would do so months later, after having gone to therapy with a psychologist.

The attacks on social media continued until, some days later, there was a brawl in a park in the south of the city, during which Suárez was badly beaten by a group of girls. Dozens of people filmed the assault, which also went viral. In the midst of this battle between minors, who had been exchanging hate messages via their most commonly used social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok, Hoffman waded into the controversy.

The mere fact that she stored or played that content constitutes a child pornography offense
Karina Martínez, lawyer in charge of Suárez‘s case

YosStop responded via her social media accounts to the accusations against her. “They have tried to involve me in an offense that I never committed,” she said. “But I fully trust in the truth and in common sense. As I have said in many of my videos, allegations should serve as a tool of citizen empowerment. Unfortunately, I find myself involved in an issue that has nothing to do with me. But I hope that everything is cleared up and resolved soon.”

The complaint against the YouTuber is principally based on the comment that she made about the images of the assault, which she admitted having received, played and stored on her cellphone. Lawyers have insisted that this evidence will prove key to the case. In the video, Hoffman called Suárez a “slut” for having allowed the assault to take place, as well as accusing her of seeking attention and of lying for having denounced the rape via social media. “That woman let them stick a bottle of Moët in her vagina for three packs of cigarettes. Then this woman got all popular for being such a slut,” she said in a video that has since been deleted from the platform.

One of the lawyers from the firm Schütte & Delsol Gojon Abogados, Karina Martínez, who is handling the case for Suárez free of charge, told EL PAÍS in March: “The mere fact that she stored or played that content constitutes a child pornography offense. And she herself shows the camera the screen of her cellphone with the video of the rape on it.”

Three years after that fateful night, the law firm celebrated the arrest of YosStop. She is facing a sentence of between seven and 14 years in jail if convicted, but given the type of offense, she could reach a deal and avoid going to court. As for the other five people involved, all of whom were minors at the time of the events, the lawyers have indicated that they are being investigated by the public prosecutor but that this probe is at an “early stage,” which is why they have not yet been brought to the courts.

Suárez’s complaint has become an unusual example of the reality faced by thousands of women in Mexico, a country where four in every 10 adult females have suffered some kind of sexual violence. Another alarming statistic shows that more than 99% of these cases are never reported to the authorities. Rape cases have risen by 30% since the last months of 2020, according to the latest official figures.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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