Rachel Ballinger is facing similar accusations to her sister.
The YouTube creator, who boasts over 2.6 million subscribers, is facing criticism for initiating a friendship with child star JoJo Siwa when JoJo was barely a teenager.
Though Rachel is widely known because of Colleen Ballinger, she has built an online career independent of her sister through lifestyle vlogs and comedy videos.
In the episode, Rachel and JoJo discussed how they first became friends and both shared their respective experiences coming out as gay.
When recounting how they met, Rachel says she slid into JoJo’s DMs after they were introduced at a Miranda Sings show. JoJo confirms she was 14 years old at the time. This would make Rachel around 26 years old.
“I got a text on Twitter, a DM, that says, ‘Hey, let’s be friends’,” JoJo says of Rachel messaging her at 14 years old.
“I shot my shot,” Rachel laughs on the podcast.
This clip was reshared on YouTube via the New Zealand-based commentary channel, Drama Investigator. Based on things said in the interview, DI also speculates in her video that Colleen had opened up to JoJo about her marriage with Joshua David Evans and their subsequent divorce.
Viewers have expressed serious concern about Rachel initiating a friendship with a young fan of her sister’s, suggesting it sounds like Rachel “groomed” JoJo.
“I’ve been screaming into the void about Rachel Ballinger and JoJo- This child was groomed from moment one by this entire family,” wrote one viewer. “It’s obvious that Jojo was around that family as a minor regularly and treated like a grown up. Whose protecting their children anymore???”
“There’s nothing wrong with anyone of any ages being friends— if friendship is truly all it is. But that’s the problem with these relationships. They aren’t just being friendly. They go beyond friendliness and cross that boundary into the realm of misconduct. Hanging out alone at an adult’s house when you are a young teen? Talking to a young teen about sex? absolutely not.” wrote another.
JoJo told Howie Mandel that she was a fan before becoming a friend of Colleen— something many internet users have criticised the influencer for this year. She also admitted that she was 12 years old when she first became “friends” with Colleen.
“The internet can take a lie and run so far with it so far that it’s to the point where you just can’t do anything about it,” JoJo said of the accusations against Colleen.
When Howie pressed JoJo for details, asking her whether she thinks all the allegations are a “lie,” she gave a vague answer, noting that “There have been a lot of people on the internet who have gotten hit with this cancellation.”
Though it seems that JoJo has not fully unpacked the trauma she endured as a child star, it’s also clear the adults around her, like Rachel and Colleen, are not willing to take accountability for the role they played in exploiting her.