David Dobrik is one of the most famous influencers of the generation. From his 4:20 vlogs on YouTube and his podcast, “Views,” to his partnerships with large brands like SeatGeek and several awards, Dobrik has made quite the name for himself since he first started on the popular app, Vine.
On March 16, Business Insider writer and Ohio University alumna Kat Tenbarge published a piece 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.” The woman who came forward maintains anonymity throughout the piece by being referred to as “Hannah.”
In the article, Hannah talks about her experience meeting the Vlog Squad and specifically, how Dom Zeglaitis, also known as Durte Dom, assisted in getting her drunk, coerced her to his bedroom and had sex with her while she was nearly unconscious until her friend had to “finish him off” just to get him away from her.
The article talks about how there were five women invited to hangout with Dobrik and the Vlog Squad and the bit of the video, called “SHE SHOULD NOT HAVE PLAYED WITH FIRE!!” was about how all the girls were going to all have sex with Zeglaitis.
"I immediately felt really uncomfortable because I was under the impression that we were going to meet these cool creators, we were going to hang out, maybe film something," Hannah told Insider. "It was high pressure from the moment we walked in."
Zeglaitis was asking Hannah to be his Instagram girlfriend, promising money and fame, while trying to coerce her into having sex with him. Hannah recalled the situation as making her uncomfortable from the beginning through the end.
When Hannah reached out to Zeglaitis to tell him how she felt, his only response was about taking the video down, which he and Dobrik did.
Though Zeglaitis declined to comment, Dobrik’s representation said he would comment directly toward his fans. Dobrik did address the situation, but posted a two and a half minute video called “Let’s talk” on his podcasting channel “Views,” which has 1.67 million subscribers, in contrast to the 18.9 million and 8.7 million subscribers of his other two YouTube channels. In the video, he addressed separate sexual assault accusations from Seth Francois, a former Vlog Squad member, and the Business Insider article.
“With people in my life that I don’t film with anymore, like Dom, I chose to distance myself, because I don’t align with some of the actions, and I don’t stand for any kind of misconduct,” Dobrik said in the video. “I’ve been really disappointed by some of my friends.”
OU students watching the story unfold were disappointed in Dobrik’s response.
Katie McCort, a sophomore studying sociology-criminology, watched Dobrik’s apology and thinks he could’ve done much better.
“David Dobrik is a really big influencer,” McCort said. “And I think that that's a pretty popular name; if you go up to anyone and say, ‘David Dobrik,’ they're gonna be like, ‘Oh, he's on YouTube.’ I think that considering the amount of influence he has, he needed to address that in a way that was more appropriate to his audiences. I don't think it's enough for him to get on his least popular platforms ... and say ‘I don't agree with that.’ I think it's important for him to be an advocate for survivors.”
Leah Spendley, a sophomore studying pre-nursing, believes in the importance of someone with such a large platform taking responsibility for their actions.
“Also, you have to hold your friends accountable for their actions,” Spendley said. “And I don't think it means he necessarily has to completely cut Durte Dom out of the picture, but I think he definitely needs to help educate him and make him come to terms with what actually happened and the reality of the situation.”
In the Business Insider article, Trisha Paytas was quoted, as she was dating Jason Nash at the time and was present when the incident occurred. She said she left before the alcohol was brought out, but it was clear to her that the women there didn’t want to participate in anything with Zeglaitis.
Paytas posted a counter video to Dobrik’s apology, called “David turned off comments but I am not…,” where she details the situation further and gives fans a space to write comments and discuss.
Analese Marrison, a junior studying early childhood education, listens to Paytas’ “Frenemies” podcast and heard her inside take there. Though Marrison recognizes that Paytas can blow situations out of proportion, she feels Paytas is handling this better than Dobrik – and she isn’t even as involved.
“It's very interesting because I do watch some of Trisha’s videos and sometimes they're a little out of hand,” Marrison said. “But when it comes to this situation, even her video on what was going on with the David situation, it was so much longer than David's apology, and it shouldn't be like that. She has seen that firsthand, too – she is one of the witnesses, too.”
Overall, students wish Dobrik would’ve handled the situation in a more mature and healing way, and they are interested to see how this impacts his career and the other Vlog Squad members’ careers.
“It did not help the situation at all because it was such a short statement,” Marrison said. “He turned off the comments as well, too. So it was like, ‘Let's talk about it,’ but he didn't really talk about it or get anyone’s input into it. And I feel like he was just trying to brush it off. First, he shouldn’t have done this in the first place. But I feel like he should have apologized better and listed the things that he would do to show his supporters that he has changed and he does regret the decisions he made.”