Russell Brand barred from making money on YouTube amid sexual assault allegations

YouTube has suspended comedian and influencer Russell Brand from monetizing content amid allegations of sexual assault that came to light this week.

Citing the serious allegations against Brand, YouTube told USA TODAY on Tuesday that the comedian is no longer eligible for ad revenue for videos he posts on the platform.

“We have suspended monetization on Russell Brand’s channel for violating our Creator Responsibility policy," a YouTube spokesperson told USA TODAY in an email. "If a creator’s off-platform behavior harms our users, employees or ecosystem, we take action to protect the community.”

Brand has denied all the allegations, saying in a video statement over the weekend that all of his relationships have been consensual.

Tuesday's move by YouTube comes on the heels of a joint investigation of Brand by UK news outlets The Sunday Times, The Times of London and Channel 4's "Dispatches." The investigation included allegations from four women, including one who was 16, that Brand sexually assaulted them.

Here's what we know:

Allegations against Russell Brand: Russell Brand allegations mount: Comedian dropped from agent, faces calls for investigation

Russell Brand denies claims: Russell Brand denies rape, sexual assault allegations published by three UK news organizations

Who is Russell Brand?

Russell Brand speaks onstage during the 2020 MusiCares Person Of The Year gala honoring rock band Aerosmith at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Jan. 24, 2020.
Russell Brand speaks onstage during the 2020 MusiCares Person Of The Year gala honoring rock band Aerosmith at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Jan. 24, 2020.

Brand rose to fame as a stand-up comic in Britain in the early 2000s, which led to starring roles on Channel 4 and later BBC Radio, where he capitalized on a reputation for outrageous behavior and risqué banter.

He later made the jump to Hollywood, appearing in films such as "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" in 2008 and the remake of "Arthur" in 2011.

Brand was suspended by the BBC in 2008 for making lewd prank calls to "Fawlty Towers" actor Andrew Sachs in which he boasted about having sex with Sachs' granddaughter. He quit his radio show in the wake of the incident, which drew thousands of complaints to the publicly funded broadcaster.

In recent years, Brand transformed himself into a political commentator and influencer, posting YouTube videos on subjects such as personal freedom and the COVID-19 pandemic.

He is also known for his brief marriage to pop star Katy Perry from 2010 to 2012.

What are the allegations?

The UK news outlets' joint investigation published over the weekend. One woman alleged that Brand raped her while three others accused him of sexual assault. One woman also accused Brand of physical and emotional abuse.

The accusers, who have not been named, include one who said she was sexually assaulted during a relationship with Brand when she was 16 and still in school. Another woman says Brand raped her in Los Angeles in 2012. She was treated at a rape crisis center the same day, according to The Times of London's report.

The women said they were partially encouraged to speak up about Brand because of his recent rise to fame in the online influencer space.

The Times of London said Monday that more women had contacted the newspaper with allegations against Brand and they would be "rigorously checked."

In his Instagram video, Brand said he "absolutely refutes" all the allegations.

"These allegations pertained to the time when I was working in the mainstream, when I was in the newspapers all the time, when I was in the movies," he said. "As I've written about extensively in my book, I was very, very promiscuous. Now during that time of promiscuity, the relationships I had were absolutely always consensual."

YouTube decision

YouTube's decision banning Brand from making money off his content applies to all channels that may be owned or operated by the actor. He was also suspended from the platform's YouTube Partner Program, meaning his is banned from using a new or alternate channel to circumvent the enforcement decision.

Brand's main YouTube account currently has 6.6 million subscribers and regularly features controversial characters like Jordan Peterson, Tucker Carlson and Ron DeSantis. Videos on the channel are posted with titles like, "The FBI Have Been Harvesting Your DNA!?" "Hang On, Were Vaccine Mandates Based On A Lie! BOMBSHELL CDC emails," and "Zelenkyy's MASSIVE Ukraine Censorship EXPOSED."

Brand is associated with a handful of other channels which are also subject to the demonetization, including Football is Nice (20,000 subscribers, Awakening With Russell (426,000 subscribes) and Stay Free with Russell Brand (22,200 subscribers).

Brand still boasts a large following on Rumble, a far-right video site where he has 1.4 million followers. On Instagram, where Brand posted a video denying the allegations, he has 3.8 million followers and on X, formerly Twitter, he has 11.2 million.

On his Instagram video, Brand said he believes the allegations are part of a coordinated attack by mainstream media over his social media posts.

Katy Perry on Russell Brand: Russell Brand, Katy Perry and why women are expected to comment when men are accused of abuse

Russell Brand dropped from other platforms, partnerships

Brand has already been dropped from a series of partnerships as a growing list of brands and people put distance between themselves and the actor.

Brand's talent agency, Tavistock Wood, cut him from its roster in the wake of allegations, which an agency rep says it's been aware of since 2020.

"Russell Brand categorically and vehemently denied the allegation made in 2020, but we now believe we were horribly misled by him," a representative from Tavistock Wood told USA TODAY in a statement Sunday.

Publishing company Pan Macmillan imprint Bluebird has also ended its working relationship with Brand.

"These are very serious allegations and in the light of them, Bluebird has taken the decision to pause all future publishing with Russell Brand," a spokesperson told USA TODAY Monday.

A woman's charity that Brand's own charity organization, Stay Free Foundation, worked with has also severed ties. Trevi Women, a charity that helps mothers with drug and alcohol rehabilitation, said in a statement Saturday that it is "deeply saddened and upset by the stories reported on this evening's Channel 4 Dispatches program regarding Russell Brand."

"As a charity whose values put women's voices at the heart of what we do, we always prioritize supporting women affected by violence and abuse and empower them to live without violence and fear," the organization said.

Tour postponed

The rest of Brand's standup tour have been postponed, as well.

As part of the Bipolarisation Tour, Brand was scheduled to perform at Theatre Royal Windsor on Sept. 19, Plymouth Pavilions on Sept. 22 and The Halls Wolverhampton on Sept. 28. All tickets for the performances will be available for a refund.

"We are postponing these few remaining addiction charity fundraiser shows," promoters said in an email statement to venues. "We don't like doing it — but we know you'll understand."

Contributing: Naledi Ushe, KiMi Robinson, Edward Segarra, USA TODAY; The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: YouTube bans Russell Brand from making money amid assault allegations